While his campaign until now has been what some have called mediocre, Gov. Nathan Deal may well be setting the stage for a victory without a runoff in November. In recent weeks Deal and groups supporting his candidacy have spent the money to air stronger pro-Deal commercials, as well as effective attacks on his opponent, Jason Carter.

The impact is showing. The RealClearPolitics average of all public opinion polls now has Deal moving up and Carter standing still. In the past two days, two polling firms have pegged Deal at 49 percent and 50 percent respectively. But it is the latter poll, conducted by the respected and self-identified “Democrat leaning” PPP, that best confirms a potential trend.

While Deal’s ads have greatly improved – particularly the current ad starring First Lady Sandra Deal – the chief reason for Carter’s stagnation is in the issues he has chosen to raise in his television ads attacking Deal. For the most part they are drab and have little punch.

Much of the fight over ethics, or possible flaws in state government under Deal have been left to the media to bring up. Carter’s team, although bright and energetic, seems unwilling to hit Deal with the topics that made the race close for months – last year’s state and local government fiasco in the handling of a snowstorm’s aftermath, and the hard-to-describe and hard-to-follow alleged  “ethics problems” of Deal.

Carter’s team has yet to show an understanding that the election for governor is purely a referendum on Deal, not a vote for Carter. Or perhaps they do understand, but are more interested in keeping Carter tidy and unscarred for a potentially successful run for governor four years from now. 

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