NBC News polls show changing political landscape in South - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

NBC News polls show changing political landscape in South

Protesters hang signs on a Confederate statue in Memphis. The Nathan Bedford Forrest monument has since been removed. (Source: WMC Action News 5) Protesters hang signs on a Confederate statue in Memphis. The Nathan Bedford Forrest monument has since been removed. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
(WMC / NBC News) -

New NBC News polls show more nuanced political views in the Southern United States, once viewed as a conservative bastion.

While the South was pivotal in electing president Donald Trump, support for him has waned. Just 48 percent of Southerners approve of the job Trump is doing, while 51 percent disapprove.

This number is still higher than the national approval rating for Trump, which stands at 43 percent in the poll.

Mississippi has the strongest approval of Trump in the nation at 57 percent.

The results, which can be viewed here, also show support from Southerners in giving undocumented immigrants a chance to apply for legal status. 

A majority of Southerners now approve of same-sex marriage. The 55 percent is much higher than it was just a few years ago in the region.

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippians are far less optimistic about the state of their economy and government than the rest of the South.

A plurality of Mississippians rate the economy as "very" or "fairly bad," while only 36 percent think the Mississippi state government is doing a good job at maintaining roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Those numbers are higher in other Southern states.

Nonetheless, Mississippians hold individual political leaders in high regard, with strong majorities approving of Gov. Phil Bryant (67 percent), Sen. Roger Wicker (61 percent) and Thad Cochran (59 percent), who resigned from the Senate this month, all Republicans.

Wicker is also up for re-election, setting up an unusual "double-barreled" Senate race this year that Democrats hope they have an outside shot at contesting.

TENNESSEE

Retiring Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican and frequent Trump critic, is barely above water in his home state. Forty-eight percent approve of him, while 47 percent disapprove.

That's notably weaker than the support enjoyed by his fellow Republicans, Sen. Lamar Alexander and Gov. Bill Haslam, whose approval ratings outstrip their disapproval ratings by double digits.

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, is running to replace Corker, and was ahead in a recent poll, but his party affiliation will probably be a drag. Just a third of Tennesseans said they would vote for a Democratic candidate this year, while half said they would vote Republican; 14 percent said they wouldn't vote at all.

However, Middle Tennessee State University recently released a poll that showed Bredesen with a 10-point advantage over Marsha Blackburn.

Thursday's release of the new NBC News SurveyMonkey poll shed new light on Tennessee voter preference.

"This particular poll was interesting. They asked voters would you vote for a Democrat or a Republican in just a generic Democrat or Republican. When you ask voters that, Republicans do very well in those states. We saw recently when you look at the MTSU poll specifically with Phil Bredesen versus his Republican opponent, you see at least in one poll a 10-point advantage for Bredesen," Michael Sance, University of Memphis political science professor, said.

Sen. Corker and Sen. Alexander have already thrown their support behind Blackburn's bid to succeed Corker.

The NBC poll offered a look at their current preference in the state of Tennessee.

Forty-one percent of the people who responded somewhat approved of the work of Corker while 26 percent said they somewhat disapprove.

It's similar numbers for Alexander, with 46 percent of the people polled somewhat approved of the work of Senator Alexander. 24 percent strongly disapproved.

"Both parties are seeing they have a shot. Republicans are seeing they have a serious risk of losing control. The Democrats are getting the scent of victory," Sance said.

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