NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) —The latest Tennessee statewide Vanderbilt University poll shows party politics continues to divide residents, but some topics do show unity.
When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than a third of Republicans said they don't plan to get vaccinated. However, 60% of Republicans and 94% of Democrats said they'd already been vaccinated against coronavirus.
“This is a remarkable number — that the vast majority of a political party feels the other party is illegitimate, despite the lack of any evidence," Josh Clinton, professor of political science, said. "This survey question has not been previously relevant in American politics, so going forward this will continue to be a concern when evaluating how this will impact future elections around the country.”
COVID-19 Restrictions Eased:
As businesses begin to fully reopen and pandemic restrictions are largely eased, Tennesseans chimed in on the economy.
The poll found 34% of the state's Republicans said they want state government to prioritize the economy, while there was only 9% Democratic support.
34% of Democrats want state government to focus on COVID-19, while there was only 8% Republican support.
Overall, 74% of Republicans agreed with the statement that the pandemic “is largely over and things should go back to the way they were,” while only 14 percent of Democrats did.
2020 Election & President Joe Biden:
Despite election results being certified, 71% of Republicans and 30% of Independents still agree with the statement that “Joe Biden stole the 2020 Presidential election,” the poll said.
When it comes to President Joe Biden's plans. specifically on infrastructure, only 29% of Republicans approved, and 96% of Democrats approved.
But Vanderbilt University said when the question was posed without naming the plan or President Biden, Republican approval for infrastructure doubled to 59%, while the same percentage of Democrats approved.
“The fact that there is broad support for these economic issues when partisan indicators are omitted shows that political context can really affect people’s reactions to important policy issues, depending on how the issues are framed,” Clinton said.
When it comes to stimulus packages, the Vanderbilt poll found Democratic support was 91% and Republican support was 48% when President Biden was mentioned.
As midterm elections near, Vanderbilt poll results show Democrats are most likely to rally around economic policies to attempt to build support for their candidates, but Republicans will likely campaign on social issues to rally their base and appeal to independent voters.
Some key findings in the poll, provided by Vanderbilt:
There are large differences in perceptions about racial inequality, with 90 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of Republicans agreeing with the statement that the legacy of slavery affects the position of Black people in American society today a great deal or a fair amount. Separately, 51 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of Democrats feel race relations in the U.S. are generally good.
On gun safety laws, a majority of Republicans (57 percent) and a small minority of Democrats (8 percent) approve of making it legal for those 21 and over to carry a handgun without a permit.
On withdrawing support or “canceling” public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive, 60 percent of Democrats and only 17 percent of Republicans agree on the practice.
Compared to fall 2020, there was a large jump in the number of people who feel immigration is a priority for Tennessee state government—17 percent of Republicans and 2 percent of Democrats in this latest poll feel that immigration is a top priority, which is up from 2 percent and zero percent, respectively. Furthermore, 60 percent of Republicans and 9 percent of Democrats agree that “immigrants today are a burden on our country because they take our jobs, housing and health care.”
When it comes to having pride in America, this is where Democrats and Republicans found some middle ground. Poll results showed that 97% of Republicans, 92% of Democrats and 93% of Independents agreed with the statement that they were proud to be an American. An overwhelming majority of people asked, about 84%, say they are good friends with someone from the opposite party.
Read the full poll results here.