Tennessee Headed in a Blue Direction?

Is Tennessee headed toward battleground status? Ok, perhaps not, but we do know from polling that Tennessee voters are less hostile to the Democratic presidential ticket than they were four years ago, and our red-blue gap is shrinking faster than most other deeply red states. At least that’s a plausible conclusion one can draw from data compiled by Nate Silver at the The New York Times‘ FiveThirtyEight blog. Silver compared the final presidential election result in 2008 with a weighted average of current election polling in each of 18 solidly red states:

Source: FiveThirtyEight at The New York Times

In 10 of 18 states the red grows redder — a polling lead for Mitt Romney that exceeds John McCain’s 2008 margin of victory. In the other seven, all still with Romney ahead, the redness has paled — a smaller Romney edge in polling now compared with McCain’s margin four years ago. The two states with the biggest shift blueward are South Carolina followed by Tennessee — the latter showing the red margin of advantage cut in half. And the polling data is pretty good in extent and quality: Silver’s weighted number for Tennessee relies mainly on two surveys: a YouGov poll earlier this month (finding Romney +8 among registered voters) and a Vanderbilt poll in May (Romney +7 among registered voters).

Extrapolating optimistically (if impulsively), Tennessee should be a battleground state by 2016. Not holding breath.

A version of this post appears on the Nashville Scene‘s Pith in the Wind blog.

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