Our pro-Trump senators in Washington D.C. will not vote to convict former President Donald Trump in his likely impeachment trial, according to the most recent Nashville Power Poll. The margins of this prediction were astronomical. As to whether the Senate overall will vote to impeach Trump, Power Poll members predicted the Senate would not.
Our other statewide elected Republican officeholder—Gov. Bill Lee—came in for some criticism from members for failing to acknowledge Biden’s victory in the presidential race. In keeping with diehard Trump supporters, Lee did not acknowledge Biden’s victory until well after the victory. In fact, it came after the Jan. 6 insurrection, which the vast majority of Power Poll members thought was far too late.
Finally, members were asked if they were optimistic about a lessening of the partisan divisions that brought the country to the point of chaos and violence two weeks ago. It appears we are optimistic, but only barely. More respondents than not think we may soon experience an upswing in civility.
Here are the specific questions and responses to the January Nashville Power Poll. A total of 697 Nashvillians were sent the survey. 384 responded, for a response rate of 55.09%.
U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty are among the most pro-Trump senators in the Senate. If, as appears likely, an impeachment trial is held in the Senate, how do you think they will vote? First, Blackburn:
She will vote to convict: 1.3%
She will vote not to convict: 93.8%
She will abstain: 2.3%
I don’t know what she will do: 2.6%
Now, Hagerty. What will he do?
He will vote to convict: 1.8%
He will vote not to convict: 89.3%
He will abstain: 2.9%
I don’t know what he will do: 6%
Do you think the Senate, if it holds an impeachment trial, will vote to convict Trump?
I don’t know: 25.5%
Will the sharp partisan and ideological divisions in the nation over the next two years:
Stay the same: 32%
I don’t know: 7.8%
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee did not publicly acknowledge Biden’s victory in the presidential election until after the deadly insurrection in the Capitol building. Should he have done so earlier?
I don’t know: 5.7%
The Power Poll is not a scientific survey. Rather, Power Poll aggregates the opinions and beliefs of the most powerful, influential, and significant individuals in Nashville and asks them about the direction of their city, state, and nation. These responses are important factors in determining where our community leaders are steering us. The non-partisan Power Poll conducts similar surveys in 19 other cities. To see the membership of Nashville’s Power Poll, click here.
Joe Biden has been elected president, but there is no guarantee that his call for civil decency and selfless unity will ever leave the launching pad. Trump’s hallucinatory message of a stolen election and a deep state and a nation of carnage entered the minds of tens of millions of American citizens, and it stuck. And it was all so easily done, made possible by our stupendously awful media and information platforms where, it is often the case, the sun rises in the West. And the earth is flat. And elections are stolen.
In the end, millions of Americans—a good portion of whom live here in Tennessee—believed Trump. Our three highest statewide officeholders—two U.S. senators and the governor—tethered themselves to Trump’s insanely high political support and also to his insanely fictitious political universe.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out over time. The truth normally outs, and the election was not stolen, but Blackburn, Hagerty, and Lee never could bring themselves to say that. Either they believed it might have been stolen or they were worried for their political lives if they angered Trump’s base. Or both. Regardless, none of them could bring themselves to utter the truth, which was that Biden had won fair and square.
Now, fast forward to impeachment, which is like Phase II of the how-far-one-will-support-Trump-to-stay-popular-with-Tennessee-voters. Power Poll members are predicting overwhelmingly that Blackburn and Hagerty will vote not to impeach. Local attorney Henry Walker wrote (in our increasingly robust comments section I might add) that distinctions ought to be made between Hagerty and Blackburn. Said Walker: “Hagerty knows better of course.” Or, as Bob Mueller said with a dose of realism, “(There are) too many Trump supporters in Tennessee for Blackburn and Hagerty to change teams now.”
In other words, the center-left membership of Power Poll in Nashville sees the pro-Trump positions of both Hagerty and Blackburn continuing. Which saddened some. As local real estate executive Ken Leiser commented, “ ‘When a man lies, he murders some part of the world.’ How do we deal with that?”
Beyond how Hagerty and Blackburn vote, Power Poll members do not think that the Senate will find Trump guilty in an impeachment trial. Over a majority voted that way.
A lot of people want answers from Lee, whose plate of negatives in the last year has grown fuller in a slow-mo, water-torture-drip-drip way. He’s had bad stats on COVID-19 staring him in the face for a while now. FBI agents are hopscotching from office to office down in the Legislature, with some speculating that the investigation has to do with his school voucher bill. (He has nothing to do with the investigation, it should be noted.) And as regards Trump, while Lee could easily have come out and rebutted the mistruths about the election, he hasn’t.
“Will anyone emerge to mount a serious challenge?” commented local newswoman Demetria Kalodimos. “It will take years, yes, but possible.”
It is interesting to think about the arc of time here. Will people look back on this period and marvel that our officeholders could not bring themselves to say that Biden won in a fair fight? If so, when will that be? What are the political implications for the people who didn’t acknowledge the truth? Or, will popular opinion remain always on the side of those who think the election was stolen, rigged, or “tainted” as Blackburn and Hagerty have termed it?
Finally, if you’re looking for hope for the future, we have a little bit for you. 45% of Power Poll members say we will see less partisan division and rancor over the next two years. One-third think it will stay the same. The rest say it’ll worsen, or they don’t know. Not overwhelmingly good news, but not bad. Light poking through the shade, as the inauguration poet Amanda Gorman said. “The new dawn blooms as we free it / For there is always light / if only we’re brave enough to see it / if only we’re brave enough to be it.”
In conclusion, Power Poll hereby would like to issue a Gold Star award for “Best Comment” to our own Bill Frist, former Republican Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate. Rather than post his own words in the Power Poll comments section, he posted a quotation from John F. Kennedy, in an address by Kennedy to the Massachusetts legislature on Jan. 9, 1961.
Here is the passage that Frist posted:
“For those to whom much is given, much is required. And when, at some future date, the high court of history sits in judgment on each of us, recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state, our success or failure, in whatever office we hold, will be measured by the answers to these questions: First: Were we truly men of courage—with the courage to stand up to one’s enemies, and the courage to stand up—when necessary—to one’s associates, and the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed? Second: Were we truly men of judgment—with perceptive judgment of the future as well as the past, of our mistakes, as well as the mistakes of others, with enough wisdom to know what we did not know, and enough candor to admit it? Third: Were we truly men of integrity, men who never ran out on either the principles in which they believed or the people who believed in them, men whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust? Finally, were we truly men of dedication—with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and compromised by no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest? Courage — Judgment — Integrity – Dedication: these are the historic qualities which, with God’s help, will characterize our Government’s conduct in the storming years that lie ahead.”
—John F. Kennedy’s farewell address to the Massachusetts State Legislature, Jan. 9, 1961.