October 23, 2020 10:00am

Knoxville Power Poll: Breaking for Biden

A majority of community leaders plan to vote for the Democratic nominee, despite Knox County’s Republican leanings.

Photo of Scott Barker
Knoxville, TN Correspondent

Knox County overwhelmingly voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, but local business and civic leaders are in former Vice President Joe Biden’s camp this year.


This month’s Power Poll survey found 56 percent of respondents planned to vote for the Democratic nominee, compared to 34.86 percent who preferred Trump. Only 2.29 percent were unsure of their pick.


An even greater majority — nearly eight in 10 — is convinced Biden will win the popular vote nationwide, though barely more than half predict he’ll win in the Electoral College. 


Three out of four respondents plan to vote early and close to 13 percent are  submitting absentee ballots, an option many across the country are using to reduce the chances of contracting COVID-19. As of Wednesday, 15.3 percent of the early voting ballots sent out by the Knox County Election Commission have been returned by absentee voters.


Typically, the Power Poll focuses on local and state issues, but this month’s survey centers on the polarizing presidential race.


Tennessee is not considered a battleground state by anyone’s estimation in this year’s presidential election. In 2016, Trump won the Volunteer State with 60.7 percent of the vote. The governor, both the state’s senators and seven of its nine House members are Republican. 


While a majority of the Power Poll respondents favor Biden, history would suggest Trump will carry the county. The 2nd Congressional District, which centers on Knoxville, has been represented by the Grand Old Party since it was the Brand New Party prior to the Civil War.


In Knox County, the county mayor, nine of 11 county commissioners, and all of the independent elected officeholders are Republicans. Heading into the Nov. 3 election, the three state senators who represent portions of Knox County are Republicans, as are five of the seven state representatives.


The last publicly released poll in Tennessee, which showed Trump with a 9-point lead among registered voters, was conducted by Vanderbilt University in May. Biden has widened his lead in national polls and in key battleground states since then, but no scientific polls have gauged the race in Tennessee in the past five months.


The Power Poll is not a scientific poll but a survey of views and attitudes among community leaders. The pool of Knoxville leaders surveyed has recently been expanded. You can see the full list here.

For this survey, 807 people were invited to participate and 175 returned responses. Here are the questions and results.


Who do you plan to vote for in the presidential election?

Donald Trump: 61 (34.86 percent)

Joe Biden: 98 (56 percent)

Other: 12 (6.86 percent)

Unsure: 4 (2.29 percent)

Who do you think will win the nationwide popular vote?

Donald Trump: 24 (13.71 percent)

Joe Biden: 136 (77.71 percent)

Unsure: 15 (8.57 percent)

Who do you think will win in the Electoral College?

Donald Trump: 51 (29.14 percent)

Joe Biden: 93 (53.14 percent)

Unsure: 13 (17.71 percent)

How will you cast your ballot in this year’s election?

In person during the early voting period: 129 (73.71 percent)

In person on Election Day: 24 (13.71 percent)

Absentee/mail: 22 (12.57 percent)

Power Poll Members: Do you have a friend or colleague who should be on Power Poll? Please invite them to join!

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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