US Senate hopefuls weigh Tennessee early voting spike

Friday, November 2, 2018, Vol. 42, No. 44

NASHVILLE (AP) — About 1.38 million Tennesseans have cast early or absentee ballots, nearly presidential-year-level turnout that Senate race rivals deem positive for their campaigns.

Early voting concluded Thursday for the Nov. 6 election.

About 1.68 million ballots were cast early in President Donald Trump's 2016 election, and 1.46 million in former President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election.

Democratic ex-Gov. Phil Bredesen's campaign points to early totals in Democratic areas and elsewhere. Turnout topped 162,200 in Nashville's Davidson County, only 7 percent off 2016 levels. Memphis' Shelby County topped 188,600, about 22 percent below 2016.

Republican Congressman Marsha Blackburn says she's seeing enthusiasm statewide, including from "Trump Democrats."

Recent polls have shown Blackburn taking a lead, but Trump's upcoming visit Sunday and millions of dollars in new outside spending this week suggest the race remains close.