Poll: half of GOP backs Deal;
By Matt Towery
Southern Political Report
Copyright © 2008 Creators Syndicate
ATLANTA - Half of GOP voters say they're backing Gov. Nathan Deal for re-election, but they're split on Senate candidates, according to a poll released Thursday.
The survey for Morris News and Fox 5 by InsiderAdvantage also showed that few Republicans think the tea party should devote energy to pushing solar power.
The Wednesday night survey of 338 registered voters who say they would vote in the GOP primary if held today has a 5.7 percent margin of error.
Deal commands 50 percent while Dalton Mayor David Pennington, who announced this week he is challenging Deal, garnered just 8 percent. The remaining 42 percent either had no opinion or supported another candidate.
"It's about where I would expect an incumbent governor to be when you're dealing with the Republican Party. The Republican Party is in a bit of turmoil," said InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery. "That's pretty much a you-have-to-blow-it scenario for Deal."
The four announced Republican hopefuls for the U.S. Senate are essentially tied when considering the margin of error, and one exploratory candidate, political newcomer David Perdue, has 5 percent.
Congressmen Jack Kingston at 17 percent, Phil Gingrey at 15, and Paul Broun with 11 are splitting the vote so far with former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who has 13 percent. The remaining 39 percent are undecided or support another candidate.
Towery said the candidates are effectively on equal footing.
"The ones who get on TV the earliest, if they have an effective message, they will get a lead, and it'll be hard of the others to catch up," he said.
Towery also questioned poll participants about Georgia's biggest political news of the week, Thursday's vote by the Public Service Commission on Georgia Power Co.'s long-term plans to generate electricity. In the days leading up to the vote, various groups connected with the tea-party movement have taken opposite positions on whether the regulators should require the company to double its access to solar power.
The all-Republican commission ended up voting 3-2 for the added solar.
The poll showed just 25 percent of Republicans questioned agreed that the issue "is a good use of the tea party's time and efforts." Most, 50 percent, said it was a bad use of the movement's resources. The rest said they didn't care or were undecided.
Towery said the results show voters are confused when the tea party strays from the issues of taxes and federal spending that spawned it.
"I just think if we keep seeing the tea party going after these abstract issues, they're just going to dilute their clout," he said.
Follow Walter Jones on Twitter @MorrisNews and Facebook or reach him at email@example.com and (404) 589-8424.