Posted: 4:13 pm Thursday, January 9th, 2014
By Greg Bluestein
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.
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.”
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.”
About the Author
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He joined the newspaper in June 2012 after spending seven years with the Atlanta bureau of The Associated Press. He also contributes to the AJC's Political Insider blog. Bluestein has traveled to Haiti with President Jimmy Carter, journeyed to Panama with Gov. Nathan Deal and tracked down a suspected Ponzi schemer in suburban Kansas. He spent weeks in Louisiana covering the Gulf Oil Spill, became an unwitting expert on capital punishment after witnessing almost a dozen executions in Georgia's death chamber and was part of award-winning teams that descended upon the biggest breaking news events in the Southeast. Bluestein has covered a range of beats, including environment, legal affairs and economic development. He's now the AJC's political writer, charged with covering the intricacies of Georgia's lively government on the newspaper's front pages and in the Political Insider blog. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two daughters.