WRBL Poll: Georgia governor, senate races remain tight - WRBL

WRBL Poll: Georgia governor, senate races remain tight

Posted: Updated: Sep 02, 2014 04:41 PM
New WRBL News 3 / Ledger-Enquirer / PMB Broadcasting poll carried out by GaPundit.com show Georgia governor and senate race remains neck and neck ahead of November election. New WRBL News 3 / Ledger-Enquirer / PMB Broadcasting poll carried out by GaPundit.com show Georgia governor and senate race remains neck and neck ahead of November election.
COLUMBUS, Ga. -

A new statewide Georgia poll finds the race between Nathan Deal and Jason Carter for governor - and the race between David Perdue and Michelle Nunn for U.S. Senate - remain close and highly competitive three months before the November general election.

The poll, commissioned by WRBL News 3 television, The Ledger-Enquirer newspaper and PMB Broadcasting radio and carried out by GaPundit.com, was released Tuesday. A total of 1,578 likely Georgia voters were polled via an automated phone system on August 24 and 25.

"It is a much more competitive race than anyone thought six months ago," GaPundit.com Editor Todd Rehm told WRBL News 3's Jessi Mitchell Tuesday. "Democrats are at a disadvantage but less of a disadvantage than they have been historically."

Rehm speculates a democratic win in this recently republican-controlled state would be a huge boost for the party's national agenda.

"If Georgia joins those states that are a toss up in the electoral category that makes the map much more favorable to the democrats not just in 2016 but for the future beyond that," Rehm said speaking about both future presidential and congressional races.

Tuesday's poll attempts to simulate election results as if the election was held at the time of polling.

The gubernatorial race

Of those polled, 43.6% say if the election was held today they would vote for Nathan Deal, the republican incumbent who has held the state's chief office since 2011. Democrat Jason Carter, who is the grandson of President Jimmy Carter, received 41.51% of the poll's hypothetical votes. The margin between the two candidates is only 33 votes.

Rehm said Carter needs to solidify his position if he wants to close the small gap.

"Carter has a lot going for him but what he doesn't have is a clearly articulated plan," Rehm said. "Without a clear vision he's left to flail around and criticize the incumbent."

Less than 7% of those polled said they would vote for libertarian candidate Andrew Hunt.

The independent vote

The WRBL/Ledger-Enquirer/PMB poll shows that while third party candidates have some weight they do not currently have enough favoritism to win. Rehm speculates those voters may decide to throw their weight beyond other leading candidates.

"One of the things we've seen across the nation is a detachment of a lot of voters from traditional party structures," Rehm said. "At end of the day as people turn up in the voting booth I think they're likely to revert to their typical habitual behavior."

Such a boost could give a democratic candidate the needed support to win - - or a republican candidate the needed cushion to secure a victory.

The senate race - and the gender role

Democrat Michelle Nunn shows a slight lead over republican David Perdue in Tuesday's poll. Nunn was selected by 44.74% of those polled; Perdue was selected by 43.09%.

Rehm said a lot of this election is going to have to do with gender.

"Michelle Nunn does poll better among women," Rehm said. "Her campaign is designed to do better among women. She was chosen and promoted partly to do better among women."

Candidates who typically do well among men are doing better amongst male voters while those who typically do well among female voters are holding onto more of that vote, Rehm said. He speculates Nunn could benefit well from this because typically more women turn out to vote than men. The WRBL/Ledger-Enquirer/PMB poll was setup to mirror that ratio, with about 54% of those polled being women.

There is a slight advantage to whichever candidate can get the final appeal from female voters, Rehm explained.

Why yesterday's economy matters to tomorrow's election

"Nationally we're seeing a very low popularity of President Obama," Rehm said citing recent poll numbers, such as a CBS News poll from early August showing 40% of Americans approve of the way the president is handling the economy. "There is a sentiment among voters that his policies aren't working... I expect a lot of the undecided voters to break towards the republican candidates."

That same CBS News poll found that 41% of Americans approve of Obama's overall job performance. That number remains largely unchanged since this time last year.

Georgia's latest unemployment rate was 7.8%, which is higher than the national average of 6.2%, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

The black vote

Rehm said he believes the democrats will soon - if they have not already - go door-to-door to get black voters from the 2008 and 2012 elections back out to the polls. He believes the political party wants to make sure those voters come back out to vote again. In 2012, black voters turned out at higher rate nationwide than white voters for the first time in United States history, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Candidates will look to lock in the shifting electorate, Rehm said.

In anticipation black voters will make up about 30% of November's election in Georgia, the WRBL/Ledger-Enquirer/PMB poll served 469 black likely voters, roughly 30% of the total number of those served.

Why Columbus matters

Columbus' black, urban core and white, suburban population makes the city a key model of statewide trends, according to Rehm. Columbus is now the state's second largest city with 198,413 residents in the 2012 census. That's well behind Atlanta but ahead of cities like Augusta and Macon. That's why candidates such as David Perdue have already opened offices in Columbus as they look to lock in votes ahead of November.

The finer points - and methodology

Tuesday's poll also asked registered voters how they would vote in Georgia's State School Superintendent race and on amendments. To see those results, browse the slideshow at the top of this page. Mobile app users will need to click here to see view images.

The poll has a margin of error of +/-2.47 points at the 95% confidence interval.

James Brierton

James joined WRBL News 3 with experience from CNN, NBC News and his own hyper-local news site. He manages the WRBL News 3 Web desk. More>>

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