The recent Tennessee General Assembly Special Session on COVID-19, which dramatically reduced the state’s response to COVID-19 on everything from masks to vaccines, was met with a big backlash in a Power Poll statewide.
More than two-thirds of Power Poll voting members in Knoxville, Memphis, Chattanooga and Nashville, as well as in the state’s rural and suburban counties, say they “strongly oppose” the package of bills that has been adopted. About half of them agreed with a description that the legislation is “deplorable, extremely short-sighted with regard to public health and not at all in the best interest of the state”.
In other Power Poll findings, members expressed a range of opinions on the main cause of the Democratic Party’s recent state-level losses and the drop in President Biden’s approval ratings. Of those who chose a specific key reason, most blamed the party’s progressive Democrats “for pushing Biden too far to the left and refusing to compromise.” However, half of the respondents cited a combination of factors.
Finally, in our âSemi-important but not really important question of the month,â members are also divided on what to do, if anything, about daylight saving time. Just over a third of members think we should adopt daylight saving time all year round, while an equal number want to stick with what we have because “it’s really not. that bad “.
Here are the specific questions and answers from the November State Power Survey:
Gov. Bill Lee has just enacted a stringent set of laws approved by the Tennessee General Assembly to reduce “federal government overbreadth” and restrict the ability of local governments to enact COVID-related mandates. It has also limited the ability of private companies to require employees to be vaccinated, among other workplace measures. Regarding the legislation, do you:
- Support it firmly: 11%
- Support it a little: 10%
- Somewhat opposed: 9%
- Strongly Opposed: 68%
- Neither for nor against: 1%
- Not sure: 1%
Which of the following best describes your perspective on the legislation:
- I think it’s fair on the money: 5%
- I don’t agree with everything in it, but I think this is the normality towards which we must strive: 15%
- Lawmakers simply represented the majority views of their constituents; that’s why they are elected: 5%
- I’m not at all surprised, but I’m still amazed at how far they’ve gone to push their right-wing agenda: 23%
- I find their actions deplorable, extremely short-sighted in terms of public health, and not at all in the best interest of the State: 48%
- None of the above: 5%
The Democratic Party is reeling nationally over the loss of the Virginia governor’s race by a wide margin, a squeal in New Jersey and President Biden’s plummeting approval ratings. Which of the following do you think is MAINLY responsible?
- President Biden, who failed to articulate his agenda effectively with the American people: 4%
- Moderate Democrats, who block the Progressive Wing’s program: 2%
- Progressive Democrats, who pushed Biden too far to the left and refuse to compromise: 28%
- GOP’s astute messages on critical race theory in classrooms, the cost of Biden’s spending proposals, economics, and other issues: 11%
- A combination of all or most of them: 50%
- None of the above: 6%
THE SEMI-IMPORTANT-BUT NOT-REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTION OF POWER POLL MONTH: The summer / winter time debate resurfaced with the twice-yearly resetting of our clocks earlier this month -this. No one, it seems, is happy. Proposals launched to address the discontent include staying on daylight saving time all year round (i.e. keeping the time we were in from March to November), staying on time winter all year round (with its earlier sunrises and sunsets), or even redraw time zones. What are your thoughts?
- United States should adopt daylight saving time all year round: 37%
- The United States should stay on standard time all year round: 19%
- Central Tennessee should move to Eastern time zone, but West Tennessee should stay on Central Time: 3%
- Keep the status quo. It’s really not that bad: 37%
- We should adopt Australian time so it will always be tomorrow: 5%
DISCLAIMER: The Power Poll is not a scientific poll. Its non-partisan survey questions are directed only to the most powerful and / or influential people in major metropolitan areas in Tennessee (and other American cities). It offers fascinating insight into the thoughts, opinions and beliefs of those who can make it happen. This Power Poll was sent to 2,894 people in Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville and others living in rural and suburban counties across the state. 731 responded, for a response rate of 25%.
BACKGROUND, PART I
A vast package of COVID measures was recently adopted by the 132 members of the General Assembly who gathered in a savage and furious special session. At the root of the decline in existing COVID treatment standards were calls for individual freedom and the right of people not to wear masks or to be vaccinated. Republican and Conservative lawmakers have advocated that the government have no role in imposing individual health decisions. They won big.
They went after the mask warrants.
The masking and vaccination measures were so conservative that they prompted Republican Gov. Bill Lee, who previously had good things to say about masking, to chart a more right-wing path. Generally speaking, mask mandates by government entities will now be almost impossible to implement. Public schools will not be able to require masks unless a school jumps through many hoops. Public universities cannot demand masks (or vaccines) unless federal government funds are at risk of being withheld. As for hiding mandates in the private sector, companies will be able to determine their own policies.
The legislature also looked at vaccination mandates.
Private companies can require their employees to be vaccinated. However, an employer is prohibited from requiring any worker to demonstrate that he has been vaccinated, and this applies to both the public and private sectors. Minors in the future cannot be vaccinated without parental consent. And now it’s harder to sue for damage from COVID-19.
The state – and the Republican Party – have shown a myriad of other means.
Only the governor can now issue decrees to county health services, including counties that have their own health services, such as those in Memphis, Knoxville, Nashville and Chattanooga. These towns / counties have so far functioned with much higher degrees of authority and independence than other county departments. Read it this way: Our Republican state government was telling strongly democratic urban metropolitan areas that the state was in charge of the decision.
And seemingly out of left field, for a so-called COVID-focused session, the General Assembly made partisan elections for local school boards a reality. Other steps have been taken to disrupt urban Democrats, especially district attorney general offices, but let’s leave it at that.
The measures that were adopted and the speed with which they were adopted paint the picture of a legislature totally free from any real Democratic opposition and deeply linked to the Republican right. A powerful group of major business corporations may have pushed some of the measures that hurt them in a more moderate direction, but generally conservative Republicans have ruled as a party without fear of retaliation or political consequences.
All in all, the result was a triumphant exercise in one-party Conservative rule, a gathering of partisan wishlists that they then easily adopted. Even the members were amazed at how little attention was paid to it all. He just passed.
I would call this a highlight for Tennessee conservatism. They won big. The harsh individualism of rural interests absolutely crushed the dull and rational empiricism of urban areas. Throughout American history, individual freedom has always collided with the polite, government and the other fabrics we sew together to safeguard and protect our common interests. The special session saw this freedom run wild.
BACKGROUND, PART II
During this time, we asked two more questions:
First, we talked about the health and well-being of the Democratic Party, given that it lost the governor of Virginia race (50.6% R to 48.7% D) and won the race for the post of Governor of New Jersey in a tighter-than-expected contest (51.2% D to 48% R).
(Incidentally, Nashville Power Poll member Matt Wiltshire objected to our describing the loss in Virginia as “by a wide margin” and the race in New Jersey as being won in a “squeaker.” He was right; a 3-point margin in New Jersey was indeed close, but not a squeaker, and Virginia’s margin characterization was just plain wrong, to our chagrin. Good warning, and thank you Matt.)
Most Power Poll members believe this is not just a main issue facing Democrats, but a handful of issues that work against them. That said, those who chose a root cause of the party’s problems were the most critical of the progressive wing of the party: its inflexibility, its rejection of moderates, its attraction of Biden to the left, etc. Additionally, Republicans have been praised for their skillful messaging in areas such as economics and critical race theory in the classroom.
Finally, on our question about daylight saving time, the numbers show that people are all over the map. The larger camps recommend doing nothing or adopting daylight saving time all year round. In contention, the switch to standard time all year round. Of one thing we can be sure of: it is very dark, very early.