On the campaign trail: AJC poll also shows tight statewide races

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution released poll results Friday that showed Gov. Nathan Deal ahead by 43-42 percent in a tight race with state Sen. Jason Carter, while David Perdue edged out Michelle Nunn by 45-41 percent in the Senate race.

The AJC said Libertarian Andrew Hunt had 7 percent support in its poll of likely voters in the governor’s race and Libertarian Amanda Swafford pulled 6 percent of the Senate race vote.

Said the state’s largest newspaper:

Among voters who have definitely selected a choice, Deal leads Carter, 42 percent to 40 percent; and Perdue leads Nunn, 44 percent to 38 percent.

The poll’s margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points. The statewide poll of 884 likely voters was conducted by New York-based Abt SRBI Inc. Monday through Thursday with live calls to a mix of land-line and cellphones.

The AJC’s poll results are similar to the numbers reported by SurveyUSA in a poll earlier this week for WXIA-TV: that one had Deal leading Carter by 45-44 percent and Perdue up by 47-44 percent over Nunn.

Where the Senate race is concerned, the AJC’s executives seem to have finally realized that a poll of a political campaign should ask the voters which candidate they actually intend to vote for.

The AJC commissioned two statewide polls of the Senate Republican primary race earlier this year, but neither of the surveys asked respondents which candidate they were supporting. Instead, the polls measured the “approval” numbers of the candidates or asked respondents about hypothetical general election matchups.

The latest Senate poll for the AJC was apparently conducted in the way that political polls are normally handled.

Hecht poll of attorney general’s race

Democrat Greg Hecht, who’s challenging Attorney General Sam Olens this fall, released numbers from an internal poll that he said shows a close race between the two.

“Our internal poll that we just completed shows that when voters hear equal positive information about both candidates, our race is a dead heat — Sam Olens with 48%, Greg Hecht with 48%, and 4% undecided,” Hecht said in an email.

The usual caveats about internal polls apply here, of course. An independent poll of the attorney general’s race by SurveyUSA for WXIA earlier this week had Olens leading 49-41 percent with 10 percent undecided.

An earlier SurveyUSA poll had Olens with a 13-point lead over Hecht but in the weeks since that poll was conducted, Olens’ office was sanctioned by a Fulton County judge for withholding an important document in a whistleblower lawsuit involving the state ethics commission.

Garrett’s recusal

On the subject of the state ethics commission, when that panel met Monday morning to dismiss its top staffer, Holly LaBerge, only four of the panel’s five members participated.

Political consultant Heath Garrett recused himself from both the discussion of LaBerge’s employment status and the vote to terminate her.

Garrett’s reasons for not participating were spelled out in an email he sent to Commission Chair Hillary Stringfellow on Aug. 5:

Madame Chair,

Out of an abundance of caution I am writing to establish, for your information, a list of my clients or registered entities that I believe could create a potential conflict of interest or “appearance of impropriety” if they were to have business before the Commission during the upcoming election season:

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (client)
Attorney General Sam Olens (client)
Secretary of State Brian Demp (client)
Georgia Republican Party (indirect affiliation)
Georgia Chamber of Commerce (former client)

While I am unaware of any pending or potential conflicts based on the above relationships, I respectfully request that if any of the identified entities have business before the Commission that you properly notify all Commissioners and Commission staff as to my removal from all communications and involvement if necessary,

Respectfully submitted,
Heath Garrett

Another business media ranking — and a cautionary note

Gov. Nathan Deal exulted Thursday over the ranking of Georgia as the “number one” state for doing business by another small trade publication, Area Development magazine.

Area Development, which reports on corporate relocations, based its ranking of the state on its business environment, labor climate, infrastructure, and global access.

“I’m proud of our Area Development ranking and what it means to Georgians,” Deal said. “When businesses relocate to our state, they bring private sector jobs to communities and investment to local economies.”

While Area Development was delivering some positive news for Deal’s reelection campaign, there was also a reminder of some possible storm clouds on the horizon by Associated Press reporter Bill Barrow.

Barrow wrote a dispatch for AP on the lingering impact of ethics issues in the governor’s race:

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has always managed to stay one step ahead of ethics scrapes, and the 72-year-old Republican will have to do it again in what is likely his last election campaign in this GOP-leaning state.

Democratic challenger Jason Carter, a 39-year-old state senator and grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, is using multiple ethics investigations going back to Deal’s tenure as a congressman to cast the governor as a politician who serially abuses public office for his own benefit.

Reminiscent of his grandfather running for president in the wake of Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, the younger Carter promises “honest government” at nearly every campaign stop. “We’re absolutely going to keep reminding voters of it,” Carter said of Deal’s record.

It’s the third piece of a message that also casts the governor as short-changing public schools and mishandling Georgia’s economy.

The Deal campaign says Carter wants to distract voters from his ties to national Democrats who remain unpopular in Georgia and from questions about how he would accomplish his plans for schools without raising taxes, among other issues.

“Jason’s fundamental problem is that he can’t tell the truth about where he stands on the issues, and that’s led to him doing this absurd dance, resorting to diversions,” Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said. He added, “Our opponents for years and years have failed to prove Gov. Deal did anything wrong.”

Yet Republicans acknowledge the race is competitive and that Carter has an opening to exploit the ethics issue in television advertising, though he hasn’t done it yet.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Atlanta Journal-Constitution , David Perdue , ethics issues , Greg Hecht , Jason Carter , Michelle Nunn , Nathan Deal , Sam Olens , statewide poll