UT Prof: More Political Change In Tenn. Than In U.S.

A University of Tennessee political science professor says last Tuesday’s election results in Tennessee showed more change on the state level than the national level.

Dr. Michael Gant said the new Republican Party majority in the Tennessee Senate may signal wider public movement toward the GOP.

“It’s been a while since an election resulted in sending state Senate control to the Republicans,” Gant said. “Some of this is coattails on the Bush campaign, but sometimes coattails translate into long-term partisan shifts.”

Gant said that shift may be away from Democratic-party control of the state legislature.

“Looking at the voting data, my impression is that over time, the partisan split is balancing out and Democrats no longer enjoy the advantage in Tennessee,” Gant said. “Republicans are catching up.”

The voting resulted in 17 state Senate seats held by Republicans and 16 seats held by Democrats. While the control of the state Senate changed hands, Gant said, the national leadership didn’t change at all.

“This presidential election didn’t change things,” Gant said. “Bush was president before; he’s president now. Congress was in Republican control before; it’s still in Republican control.”

Gant said that although the electorate was polarized before and during the election, the nation will come together again.

“Just in my lifetime, the United States has seen urban violence, Vietnam and Watergate, and the nation survived,” Gant said. “The U.S. is very resilient; the republic will stand. The fact that Bush won over 51 percent of the vote is going to help, because there’s no question this time about the legitimacy of his victory.”