October 23, 2020 10:00am

Power Poll: Biden Will Win

Senate Will (Barely) Go Democratic

Photo of Bruce Dobie
Nashville, TN Correspondent
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Nashville Power Poll members, even some of whom are voting for Donald Trump, overwhelmingly think that Joe Biden will win the presidential race.

More disputed is which party will end up in control of the U.S. Senate. Just under 60% of Power Poll members believe Democrats will take the upper chamber; the remainder—just over 40%—believe Republicans will maintain control.

Meanwhile, not that this ought to be breaking news, but significantly more Nashville Power Poll members are voting for Biden than Trump.

Here are the specific questions and results in the survey:

The Power Poll is not a scientific poll. We survey the most influential, prominent people in the city of Nashville (and a number of other cities across the country) to gain insight into what the people who run their cities are thinking. Power Poll is non-partisan. In this survey, 382 people responded out of 953 surveyed, for a response rate of 40.08%. For a look at the Nashville Power Poll member list, click here.


INTERESTING FACTOID: Participation in this survey was down just a bit from most of our polls, in spite of the fact that early voting turnout in Davidson County is smashing records. I can only guess that perhaps some moderate Republican voters did not take part in the survey because they don’t plan to vote for Trump. And our question only offered up Biden and Trump as options. So they chose not to participate. That’s all I can come up with. I could be completely wrong.


The Nov. 3 election includes not only the presidential race but races for the state House and Senate. As well, we will be electing Lamar Alexander’s successor to the U.S. Senate.

Republican Bill Hagerty is a shoe-in to follow Lamar. He is running against political neophyte Marquita Bradshaw from Memphis. He has run an “I Love Donald Trump” campaign and it will work.

But the news this election cycle is not all lopsidedly good for Republicans. A handful of state legislative contests are in play. These races may flip Republican seats and turn them Democratic, which will provoke some talking points for the long-suffering state Democratic Party and its efforts to claw its way to respectability.

One tight race locally is the state Senate contest between incumbent Republican Steve Dickerson and Democratic challenger Heidi Campbell, the former mayor of Oak Hill. The district meanders through Belle Meade, Goodlettsville, Berry Hill, and more. Dickerson swiftly dispatched his last Democratic challenger four years ago. But the city hasn’t gotten any more Republican since then, Trump hasn’t done Dickerson any favors, Democratic turnout is expected to be high, and Dickerson has experienced some ugly headlines when his business partners in a healthcare company did some unsavory stuff. It’s a highly negative contest. If Democrats are going to get anywhere in the near future, this is a seat they must have.

As to the presidential race, nobody thinks Biden has a prayer in Tennessee, although the political junkies among us will be looking at Trump’s margin against Hillary Clinton and comparing the Trump-Clinton numbers (61% to 35%) to the Trump-Biden numbers.

Regarding the overwhelming support among Nashville Power Poll members for Biden, we live in an ever increasingly blue city, mirroring trends across the country of dense urban areas leaning heavily Democratic, rural areas leaning heavily Republican, and the suburbs in an existential quandary over what in the hell is going on. Regarding one such suburban area—Rutherford County—state Democrats have been hoping that the concentration of blue-collar and union voters there might be rich hunting ground. (Keep your eyes on the state House race between Republican incumbent Mike Sparks and Democrat Brandon Thomas.)


Tennesseans mirror the increasing divisiveness of American political discourse, with most of us dug in hard, on both the left and right, at a time when the need for public policy compromise has never been greater. Nerves are frayed; tempers short. Sadly, we seem to even be experiencing a spillover effect, with extremism at the federal level reaching down to our very own local politics. Witness the efforts to repeal Cooper’s property tax increase, or remove him from office entirely.

Which makes it all the more important that Power Poll members, who are so capable of finding common ground on the way to higher ground, commit themselves even more to our fraying institutions. Even if Biden wins, and the rancor of Trump goes away, the patient is still in triage. Ill words and hard attitudes don’t just evaporate. It’s going to take years for the ugliness in our democracy to melt.

After Trump’s election in 2016, the conservative writer Andrew Sullivan wrote what he thought was needed from civic actors--he calls them the "elites"—who, frankly, are a lot like Power Poll members. His words are taped above my desk and I’d like to end with them:


"Elites still matter in a democracy. They matter not because they are democracy’s enemy but because they provide the critical ingredient to save democracy from itself. The political Establishment may be battered and demoralized, deferential to the algorithms of the web and to the monosyllables of a gifted demagogue, but this is not the time to give up on America’s near-unique and stabilizing blend of democracy and elite responsibility. The country has endured far harsher times than the present without succumbing to rank demagoguery; it avoided the fascism that destroyed Europe; it has channeled extraordinary outpourings of democratic energy into constitutional order. It seems shocking to argue that we need elites in this democratic age—especially with vast inequalities of wealth and elite failures all around us. But we need them precisely to protect this precious democracy from its own destabilizing excesses."

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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