Tennessee Democrats are deciding: Do they vote for their favorite candidate or the one they think has the best chance to win in November?
Early voting started Wednesday and runs through Feb. 25. That’s ahead of Super Tuesday on March 3, when Tennessee will be among 14 states holding primaries. And for at least some Democratic voters, electability is a big factor.
Lyn and Pierce Davis of Nashville were among those who cast their ballots in the first few hours of early voting. They both “feel the Bern.” They like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ consistency over a matter of decades and his radical approach to reforming health care.
But Lyn, a retired state worker, says she went to the opposite end of the race’s ideological spectrum. She opted for billionaire and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is seen as more moderate.
“I want the candidate that is most likely to get rid of Donald Trump because I despise Donald Trump,” she says.
Her husband, Pierce, has a different calculation. He’s betting that distaste for the president will be so strong that even someone like Sanders has a shot at attracting independent voters in the general election. Not to say he’s overly confident, even after his showing in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“They’re going to paint him as a communist, not just a socialist,” he says. “I’m just hoping he can pull it off.”
Bloomberg hasn’t even been on the ballot in the states that have weighed in so far, and he won’t be until Super Tuesday.
In all, Tennessee voters in the Democratic primary will see 15 names, though more than a third of the candidates have dropped out. More could do so after the contests in South Carolina and Nevada later this month.
In 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won Tennessee with roughly two-thirds of the vote.
The 2020 Republican ballot in Tennessee has two names other than President Trump, though only one is still running. The race was more competitive in 2016, but Trump won every county but Williamson in the primary.