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Greg Bluestein

Poll gives Nathan Deal wide lead, but offers Democrats hope

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The AJC will release its own findings later this week, but a poll conducted for InsiderAdvantage and WAGA-TV found that Gov. Nathan Deal had a wide lead against Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter. Yet pollsters found reason to believe the contest could tighten by November.

nathan deal

Gov. Nathan Deal faces a heated re-election campaign against three rivals.

The poll logged Deal at 44 percent, Carter at 22 percent and the remaining 34 percent undecided. But pollster Matt Towery noted a gender gap between the candidates and a brewing fight over independent voters, half of whom are undecided. Carter also hasn’t aired TV ads yet, while a PAC linked to Deal funded spots for the incumbent last year.

The survey also concluded that the impact of the ongoing ethics allegations plaguing Deal’s office is “somewhat less than expected.” It found that 57 percent of voters surveyed were aware of the issues, 38 percent were unaware and 5 percent had no opinion. Of those who were unaware, pollsters said the brunt were black voters who would likely vote for Carter regardless.

Said Towery: “It appears, absent some knockout blow, that the stories related to Deal and ethics will not cost him reelection … With one cautionary note — that being that independent voters and females appear less aware of the stories and allegation and their vote could make the race a closer one in November.”

The Georgia GOP saw the poll results as a “clear rejection” of Carter. Spokesman Ryan Mahoney said “Sen. Carter’s ruse as a moderate isn’t fooling anyone.  Liberals lie but numbers don’t.”

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In an interview with Creative Loafing published today, Carter said he would revive a push for a pair of legislative measures that would change the way state ethics commission members are appointed and fix the agency’s budget so it can’t be changed by lawmakers:

“I would hope we’d get a hearing on them and that we can move forward. I think they’re a good idea and thought that long before all the stuff with the ethics commission lately was going on. I filed those long ago, have been a leader on those issues, and would love to see a discussion.”

Carter also directed a few jabs toward the governor on education, suggesting that Deal’s push to increase school funding this year was nothing more than an election-year gambit:

“It’s going to be an education session. For some of us, it’ll be an education session like the others. For some people, it’ll be an education session because it’s an election year.”

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