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Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

Democratic poll: 63% of metro Atlanta voters say Nathan Deal flunked his own ice storm test

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We told you Thursday that someone was already measuring the political impact of Snowjam ’14 on Gov. Nathan Deal.

Turns out the pollster was Chris Huttman of 20/20 Insight, a small local survey firm with strong Democratic ties. A founding 20/20 partner, Jeff DiSantis, is on leave and currently managing Michelle Nunn’s campaign for U.S. Senate.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogOn Wednesday, the first full day of paralysis, Huttman polled 1,000 likely voters statewide (MOE +/-3.1%) and 492 likely voters (MOE +/-4.4 percent) in the disaster-declared zone of Fulton, Cherokee, DeKalb, Clayton, Cobb, Gwinnett, Douglas, Rockdale, Fayette, Henry.

Crosstabs can be found here. Highlights of the poll:

– 73 percent of voters in the snow-affected areas of metro Atlanta rated the performance of Deal, the state Department of Transportation and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency as fair or poor. Statewide, 63 percent disapproved.

– The poll quoted Deal’s assessment following the 2011 ice storm: “The real test is, can we take what we’ve learned and make sure the next time we are presented with anything close to that, the results will be better.”

Sixty-three percent of voters who live in metro Atlanta think Deal flunked the test he set for himself. Statewide, 54 percent disapproved.

– Party identification affords the governor some protection. Among Republicans statewide, 57 percent rated the state response as fair or poor, and 46 percent said Deal had failed his own test.

– Within metro Atlanta, 55 percent of those polled said someone in their family had been stuck four or more hours in traffic during in the aftermath of the storm. Thirty-five percent said someone in family stuck more than eight hours.

– The time spent trapped by SnowJam ’14, as one might expect, drove the harshest assessments of the governor. Seventy-three percent of those who spent eight or more hours on the road gave Deal an “F” on his test.

Note that no questions were asked regarding Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

***

Not everyone has been a harsh-weather critic of Gov. Nathan Deal. Phil Wilheit Jr. of Gainesville is the finance co-chairman for U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. And chairman of the state Board of Natural Resources. Phil Wilheit Sr. is chairman of the state Board of Regents. The Wilheit family is a major financial supporter of Deal political ventures.

Here’s what Wilheit Jr. posted on his Facebook page:

Hey Atlanta! Quit whining about how inconvenient the last few days have been. It’s called earth and weather and it does what it wants. On the west coast it make the ground shake and makes buildings and bridges fall on you. On the gulf coast the oceans swallows miles of land and blows trees homes to smithereens. In the Midwest funnels pick up cars, houses and people and rip them to pieces. In the north the snow is measured in meters and the temperatures make things like ears fall off. So stop complaining about your long commute home….at least it was still there when you finally arrived.

He didn’t stop there, but urged his capital city’s male population to show more exurban-style masculinity:

Sick of the whining. The “men” in Atlanta need to drink less cosmotinis and forget about ever getting another pedicure. Be a man like the guy who hiked 6 miles through the snow and ice to be with his daughter. Spend more time in nature and less time bitching about it. If more people had not panicked and bolted out of the office at noon we would not have gridlocked the highways and the DOT could have treated them. I left my office in Gainesville at 7:15pm. Checked traffic reports. Found a good route home and traveled 50 miles in 1.5 hours.

***

Meanwhile, Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart blames gay marriage for Atlanta’s Snowjam ’14.

***

House GOP leaders, as outlined on myajc and in today’s paper, released a series of immigration reform principles and tried to sell them at the caucus retreat Thursday.

The plan does not include a new path to citizenship, but does offer older immigrants here illegally a path to legal status if they jump through certain hoops, and a variation on the DREAM Act for their children.

There has been no official decree from the office of Roswell GOP Rep. Tom Price on this issue, but Roll Call reports that Price was one of the members “influential in conservative circles” who spoke out against the plan at a closed-door meeting. Rep. John Fleming, R-La., explained to Roll Call the reasoning:

“My sense is that the consensus here is that we should not move forward and that leaders will abide by that,” Fleming said. “On a political basis, this is a suicide mission for Republicans. Why would we want to change the topic for a very toxic problem Democrats have with Obamacare?”

Then there was this assessment from an unnamed Southern member to Buzzfeed’s John Stanton, a veteran Capitol Hill scribe:

“Part of it, I think — and I hate to say this, because these are my people — but I hate to say it, but it’s racial,” said the Southern Republican lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “If you go to town halls people say things like, ‘These people have different cultural customs than we do.’ And that’s code for race.”

***

Karen Handel’s campaign just released a video reminding voters of her decision to step down from Susan G. Komen for the Cure – and the backlash from left-leaning groups. Take a gander:

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Many conservatives were displeased with the result of the Farm Bill conference committee report that passed the House this week. But Savannah Rep. Jack Kingston’s vote in favor of the nearly $1 trillion measure – over the objections of Club For Growth, et. al. – showed the pull of south Georgia’s agriculture economy.

From Kingston’s press release:

Legislation reforms a number of commodity programs.  It saves taxpayers $16.6 billion over existing policy. Much of these savings will be achieved within the first year.  South Georgia agriculture groups — especially peanuts, fruit and vegetables, forestry, and cotton — will benefit significantly from having updated farm policy locked down for the next several years….

Taxpayers across the US will see savings because this farm bill repeals direct payments, caps subsidies to wealthy farmers, prevents people from receiving food stamp benefits in multiple states, and prohibits the USDA from advertising on TV or radio and in partnership with foreign governments.

Kingston has backed the Farm Bill throughout its long, strange legislative trip, including a failed June vote on the House floor. But even that bill cut $20 billion from food stamps and added a new work requirement, as compared to $8 billion and no new work requirements in the final bipartisan result.

Kingston, Austin Scott of Tifton and Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville were the only Georgia Republicans to support the bill. The other Senate aspirants, Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey, were firmly in the “no” column.

***

But now that the Farm Bill has passed, the trio of Republican candidates looking for promotion to the U.S. Senate have another uncomfortable test. From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday passed a bill to delay sharp increases in flood insurance rates for millions of property owners in coastal and flood-prone areas.

The bill, co-sponsored by Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and Johnny Isakson, Republican of Georgia, passed by 67 to 32. It would effectively gut a 2012 law that had aimed to overhaul the nearly bankrupt National Flood Insurance Program.

Although the effort had strong bipartisan support in the Senate, it has drawn criticism from a broad spectrum of outside groups, including fiscal conservatives, environmental groups, bipartisan research organizations and budget watchdog groups.

The bill now moves to the House. The pickle for U.S. Reps Jack Kingston of Savannah, Phil Gingrey of Marietta, and Paul Broun of Athens: Vote against the bill, and you please the tea party crowd.

But you tick off a broad swath of Repubican-oriented voters on the Georgia coast, which also includes a number of high-end campaign donors.

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