NASHVILLE — It may play well on the Internet, but nine out of 10 Tennesseans are turning their thumbs down to the state's seceding from the United States, according to a Vanderbilt University poll.
Ninety percent of the 829 registered voters surveyed said they don't support the idea of Tennessee becoming an independent country. Seven percent said Tennessee should be independent. One percent indicated they hadn't given the idea much thought. Another 2 percent said they didn't know, and 1 percent refused to say.
Vanderbilt included the question on a survey of Tennesseans' views on various issues. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.
"We just asked the question to see what the proportions were," said Dr. John Geer, a Vanderbilt political science professor involved with the poll. "It was just a fun question. The results are kind of fun."
He said that while support among self-identified tea party adherents was a little higher, "the idea that there's any kind of strong support for considering this idea is nonexistent."
As of Thursday, 31,478 people had signed a petition posted on the White House website asking President Barack Obama to "peacefully grant" Tennessee the right to withdraw from the union and form its own government. It needed 25,000 to generate some type of response from the White House.
The petitions began flooding in the days after Obama was re-elected and were started in at least some cases by Obama opponents. Tennessee's petition included two signatures from Chattanooga (no full last names are provided on the site). A number of the signatures were from out of state.
State Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, an ardent supporter of states' rights and no fan of Obama, chuckled when asked about secession.
"As much as that sounds good ... I think you and I know that's not even on the table," Floyd said.
Meanwhile, a response to another question has Geer intrigued. This one dealt with the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation's largest government-owned utility, from which most Tennesseans get their electricity.
It asked whether they favored or opposed TVA and also if they had not heard enough about it to have an opinion.
Thirty-six percent said they favor the utility while just seven percent oppose it. But a majority of those surveyed -- 54 percent -- said they had not heard enough about TVA to form an opinion about the nearly 80-year-old utility.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...