Poll: Haslam gets positive bipartisan marks on education

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Democratic voters widely support Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and many of them want his education initiatives to continue through his successor, an education advocacy group found in a poll.

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education, or SCORE, ordered the survey of 500 Democratic and 500 Republican past primary voters.

The poll found that more than 6 in 10 Democratic voters and more than 7 in 10 Republican voters approve of the popular governor's performance.

By comparison, the popularity of the Tennessee General Assembly drew a deeper partisan divide, with almost 7 in 10 Republicans in approval and more than half of Democrats in disapproval.

Democratic voters also would be more likely to support than oppose a gubernatorial candidate who pledged to continue Haslam's education policies, the poll says. Republicans were even more supportive.

However, more than 1 in 3 voters from both parties said they wouldn't be swayed one way or another if a candidate promised to keep pursuing Haslam's education priorities.

On the education front, Haslam is best known for his "Drive to 55" campaign, which aims to boost the percentage of Tennesseans with higher education degrees or certificates from 38 percent currently to 55 percent by 2025.

Some initiatives within the program include free tuition at state community colleges and technical schools for all Tennessee high school graduates and adults without college degrees or certificates, which saw wide support from lawmakers in both parties.

SCORE focuses on ensuring that Tennessee high school graduates are prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce.

According to the poll, voters across party lines think K-12 education has stayed the same, though more of them think it's getting worse rather than better.

Benenson Strategy Group and Fabrizio, Lee & Associates conducted the landline and cellphone poll from July 12-16. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.

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