The Center Square [By Jon Styf] –
The reported results from a new poll run by Vanderbilt show that gun regulations were the third-most important issue to Tennessee voters and that those voters approve of Gov. Bill Lee’s move to sign a bill strengthening background checks for gun buys.
Vanderbilt says that the survey was administered to 1,003 registered Tennessee voters between April 19 and April 23.
The background check executive order was approved by 82% of those interviewed, with 10% against the move. The support included 72% of those who described themselves as MAGA Republicans along with support from 81% of non-MAGA Republicans, 91% of Democrats and 78% of independents.
The poll also showed 72% of Tennessee voters support a red flag law like Lee had proposed and could be part of a special session Lee has promised to call later this year.
Vanderbilt posed the question about the law in two ways, one asking about creating a law to prevent individuals who are at high risk of harming themselves or others while “preventing gun-related violence” or “preventing school shootings.”
Survey recipients supported the question using the term “school shootings” by 75% and “gun-related violence” by 72%.
“It’s not surprising that support for a red flag law in Tennessee increases when preventing school shootings is mentioned. However, that the baseline of support for such a law only trails by 3 percentage points is an indicator that this support is not a flash in the pan because of The Covenant School shooting,” said John Geer, co-director of the semi-annual Vanderbilt poll. “This close trend is seen with other proposed gun regulations as well.”
Vanderbilt said that, in 20 consecutive surveys, guns ranked last or next to last in a list of government priorities in the survey. But, this year, gun laws ranked third.
Nearly two out of three of those polled support laws requiring gun owners to securely store their firearms with 54% of Republicans, 68% of independents and 91% of Democrats supporting the notion.
Overall statewide approval for politicians was also polled with 53% approving of Lee, down 4% since November. Sen. Marsha Blackburn had 46% approval while Sen. Bill Hagerty saw a 42% approval rate.
In this poll, Tennessee voters said they preferred Donald Trump to be the Republican presidential candidate over Ron DeSantis by 19 percentage points. That differed from a fall poll that showed DeSantis had a 13-point advantage over Trump then.
In a presidential vote between Trump and President Joe Biden, 31% said they would vote for “someone else” but 52% would vote for Trump and 26% for Biden.
“We also explored what a head-to-head matchup between Biden and DeSantis would look like and even more Tennesseans – 40% – would choose to vote for someone else,” said Josh Clinton, co-director of the Vanderbilt Poll. “It’s clear there is a deep unease at what is coming next fall. Many Tennesseans would prefer different candidates in 2024 than they had in 2020.”
About the Author: Jon Styf, The Center Square Staff Reporter – Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies. Follow Jon on Twitter @JonStyf.