Nov 8, 2022 - Politics

What to watch in Tennessee midterm results

Illustration of a pattern of checkmarks that turn into question marks and vice versa, over a red and blue background with a pattern of ballot elements.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Tuesday is Election Day. Polls are open 7am-7pm.

The newly reconfigured U.S. House districts make Democrats the decided underdogs to represent Nashville in Congress, but it will be telling to see how close the margins are in the three races.

Why it matters: Tennessee Republicans carved up Nashville and the 5th district, which Democrats have held since the Civil War era, to create a likely GOP pickup.

State of play: Retiring incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper will be replaced by either Republican Andy Ogles or Democrat Heidi Campbell.

  • Nashville will also be represented by District 7, where U.S. Rep. Mark Green is running against Democrat Odessa Kelly and District 6, where U.S. Rep. John Rose is up against Democrat Randal Cooper.

Between the lines: Republicans might have drawn themselves a new House seat in the short term, but by dipping into deeply blue Nashville, they also risk that an existing safe seat could become competitive.

  • Democrats hope the new divisions will create a growing liberal foothold in the reshaped districts.
  • But operatives acknowledge it could take years for that dynamic to pay out.

What we're watching: The margins. They'll be informative for the next decade of Nashville-area politics.

By the numbers: According to analysis provided earlier this year to Axios by political consultant and Metro Councilmember Dave Rosenberg, District 5 voted for former President Trump by 11 points in 2020.

  • District 7, which stretches from Clarksville to Williamson County, voted for Trump by 15 points. Rose's mostly rural District 6 is viewed as the least competitive for Democrats.

The bottom line: If those margins shrink this cycle, Democrats can keep the faith that the districts will become more competitive over the next 10 years.

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