It’s official. The new polling year has started. In the past few days we released our InsiderAdvantage/Fox5/Morris News poll in the race for governor and just days later the AJC released their own poll in the race. We have no idea who is right about where the race stands at the moment. And our respected colleagues and friends at Rosetta Stone Communications will likely shed additional light on the race in the coming weeks. But here are a few things that both of these polls tell us:
* We at InsiderAdvantage/James have contended for quite some period of time that Republican voter identification was down in the state. Our polling suggests that Republicans hold an edge over Democrats in voter identification but that a larger segment of independent voters now exists. The AJC poll stated that slightly more respondents in their survey identified themselves as Democrats versus Republicans, with the percentage of independent voters less than in our InsiderAdvantage survey. If the AJC survey is correct, then the actual election between Deal and Carter truly could be a close one and other statewide races could be much closer than expected.
* Our InsiderAdvantage poll showed a significant portion of voters who are undecided at present. But the AJC poll showed a relatively small percentage of undecided voters. That would actually work in Governor Deal’s favor, given that he would need only three percentage points plus one (additional vote) based on the AJC numbers to win if the election were held today. What is most likely is that the true undecided vote is somewhere in the middle of the two polls. And we guess that the percentage of independent voters, who will be the swing vote in the race, remains healthy.
* Both polls show Deal doing better with older voters and men. And both show that Sen. Carter currently does not have what we suspect he will have in November—that being support from an overwhelming majority of African-American voters.
* The AJC poll delivered the same bad news for proponents of the “Campus Carry” gun bill that previous polls conducted by our firm have provided. This year’s “gun bill” is a potential “lethal” political weapon for Republicans among virtually every demographic. It could impact both the race for governor (and thus indirectly the U.S. Senate contest) in a big way next November. Ironically, if the proponents were to wait just one more year, the bill would likely fly thru the legislature and be signed into law.
* The AJC poll and our previous polls deliver the same news for the U.S. Senate candidates. They are all relatively unknown and have relatively small individual pockets of support. That race begins when they start to run real ads in the primary season.
Both polls suggest that Georgia’s statewide races could be more competitive than in recent cycles. That means lots of fun for political pundits and pollsters in the weeks and months to come.