In the midst of the ‘he said, he said’ back and forth on education policy between Gov. Nathan Deal and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter, the relevant question seems still unasked: Who is benefitting from all the shouting?
The answer is Deal. The incumbent governor is like the heavyweight champion boxer: To beat him, it’s not enough to stand toe-to-toe and trade body shots. To win, you’ve got to knock him out cold. And as shown by Thursday’s poll from InsiderAdvantage/Fox5/Morris News, Carter’s drawing of battle lines on education policy has barely made Deal even flinch. In fact Carter seems to have slipped in the public’s estimation since the release of his TV and Internet ad campaign that fashions himself as an education reformer. Deal leads Carter 47 percent to 40 percent in our poll, after the two were virtually tied in some previous polls.
The reason for this lack of traction on education politics is twofold. First, Carter’s essential claim has boomeranged on him. He accuses Deal of playing election-year politics by only this past year having bolstered education funding; that, following several years of underfunding K-12 schools. But Carter has played an arguably similar game himself. As a state senator, he voted for those budgets that he now criticizes as having been inadequate. And he voted against this year’s state budget, even though it finally included a significant boost in education spending. He would seem as much a political opportunist as the governor.
What’s key isn’t whether Deal or Carter makes the valid point. What’s critical can be articulated by extending our boxers’ analogy. Over the past week, Deal and Cater have been clinched together in a sweaty embrace, shoving more than punching. And that’s to Deal’s advantage, as our poll indicates.
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