Obama Approval Suffers; Perdue Not Doing Too Bad

(3/2/10) A new InsiderAdvantage telephone survey shows Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine holding onto and slightly expanding his lead in the GOP race for governor. At the same time, the survey suggests that former Secretary of State Karen Handel is on the move.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes continues to lead among Democrats … and, considering the economy and how governors are faring in other states, Gov. Sonny Perdue’s approval ratings look pretty healthy. President Obama’s ratings in Georgia are not.

The Republican primary survey was conducted Sunday night and includes results from 946 registered, likely voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The results:

John Oxendine: 27%
Karen Handel: 13%
Nathan Deal: 9%
Eric Johnson: 7%
Other: 8%
Undecided/No Opinion: 36%

This survey confirms that Oxendine will have a significant advantage in making it into a runoff in that he will have to spend less money to gain major name identification, and his opponents will not have the resources to build their name identification while, at the same time, trying to attack Oxendine.

The other big news from this survey is that Handel appears to be on the move, to the extent such can take place this early out.

Interestingly, Handel is facing the same issue that so many female candidates in the Republican Party nationally face – she can attract the male vote more easily than the female vote. In this survey, Handel got 18% of the male vote, but only 9% of the female vote. But her progress was enough to draw attention to her race.

As I have indicated over and over, these early numbers are a reflection of name identification. Nathan Deal or Eric Johnson could easily come on strong as the vote nears and campaign ads fill the airwaves. However, if the race were held today it is my guess that Oxendine would be in first place going into any runoff.

Democratic Race

Former Gov. Roy Barnes enjoys the same boost from name advantage on the Democratic side as does Oxendine for the GOP, just at a higher level.

The results from 664 registered voters who said if the election were held today they would choose a Democratic ballot:

Barnes: 36%
Baker: 7%
Porter: 3%
Poythress: 2%
Other: 4%
No opinion/Undecided: 48%

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7% and was weighted for age, race and gender.

Much like the GOP contest, many voters don’t know any of the candidates well enough to have formed an opinion. Barnes has been out of office almost eight years, but the residual name identification he holds makes him the strongest of the candidates.

I will note that in conducting this survey, we once again learned that the Democratic primary, if it were held today, would be made up of a majority of African-American voters. Barnes does well among black voters, but should Attorney General Baker have enough money to mount a decent television effort prior to the primary, my guess is that this race could become closer than some guess. Barnes would then have to find wedge issues to bring in the African American vote in a runoff.

Approval Rating, President Obama

It should come as no real shock that in Georgia, a state where he received around 47% of the vote, President Obama has an approval rating of 41% compared to a disapproval of 55%. Only 4% of respondents were undecided.

The President remains popular with those who identify themselves as Democrats, and scores poorly with Republicans (as to be expected), but has high disapproval from those who describe themselves as “independents.” These are the critical swing voters who will decide the race for governor. My guess is that, unless these numbers greatly improve, we won’t see President Obama campaigning for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in the Fall. However, anything can change in politics, so never say never.

Approval Rating, Gov. Sonny Perdue

As ratings for governors go these days, Perdue is doing very well. He enjoys a healthy 52% approval with 38% disapproval and the rest undecided. With states out of money, the economy bad, and the public angry, any incumbent governor who can stay above 50% should be more than pleased. However, I don’t think you will find Perdue determining the outcome of the GOP gubernatorial. Ironically, he had a higher disapproval level among those who described themselves as Republicans than among those who call themselves independents. Still, overall good news for Perdue.

Both the Obama and Perdue surveys included 1,184 registered voters and were weighted for age, race, gender, and political affiliation. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.7%

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It’s Time To Tell Our Friends: Our Boss Took A Hard Fall … Almost Too Hard

(2/16/10) The rumor world under the Gold Dome is always rife. For the record, here is what happened several weeks ago to our CEO, Matt Towery

Almost three weeks ago he began what was planned as a simple two-day rest and relaxation trip with a friend. As his friends know, Towery is subject to vertigo caused by air travel. As he deplaned without a jet breezeway, his head hit the tarmac at his destination with a strong force. Towery’s very close friend, former UGA coach Vince Dooley, described it as “as bad as any hit any player I had has ever taken.” He was rushed to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

He made it back to the United States late that week. He returned with direct help of Harold Bevis of Delta, former Economic Development Commissioner Craig Lesser, and Ed Holcombe, Chief of Staff for Governor Perdue. Former U.S. Senator Mack Mattingly, who considers Towery close family, coordinated the effort.

Towery, according to his doctors in Georgia, suffered a very severe concussion. Doctors this week, under the direction of the state’s top internist, Steven Marlowe (Thrashers, Braves, Hawks, and others) will direct the diagnosis.

Towery’s facial wounds are healing up quickly said his plastic surgeon, the renowned Harvey “Chip” Cole. While Towery is scheduled for minor surgery in April, Cole says viewers will see notice no difference and Towery will rejoin WSB in the next week.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (for whom Towery served as political chairman during his years as Speaker), former Senator Mattingly, and current Senator Johnny Isakson (with whom Towery is very close) have basically joined legislators such as former Speaker Mark Burkhalter and former Rules Chair Earl Ehrhart to see to it that Towery makes a full recovery. Former Governor Roy Barnes intervened as well to assist Towery as did Attorney General Baker. Speaker Ralston and former Speaker Richardson also both assisted.

“We almost lost him” said one of the sources close to the story. “He’s the most honest and one of the brightest guys we have….so we had to fight like hell to keep him.going.”

Towery was the first Republican to actually serve as Speaker of the House when his close friend, Tom Murphy, shoved the gavel in his hands in1996 when an emergency arose on the House floor. Towery presided for over an hour and a half as Speaker. Murphy, nor any other Democrat, had ever allowed a Republican control of a debate until that time. Towery reportedly held Murphy’s hand in the hospital years later as the former Speaker lapsed into his second stroke. The two were known to have a very close bond.

It is not known if Towery’s other close political friend and partner in McKenna Long & Aldridge, former Governor Zell Miller was aware of the medical emergency. Miller has been recovering from his own medical issues in recent months.

Towery has resumed a light schedule, but will “take it day by day until my friends say otherwise.” He does however intend to keep his promise to moderate a Leadership Atlanta forum later this week.

Along with his role as pollster for InsiderAdvantage and political analyst for WSB-TV, Towery writes a national syndicated column which runs in newspapers across the nation as well as Newsmax, Town Hall, and Human Events. The column is based out of Jacksonville’s Florida-Times Union. InsiderAdvantage President Chuck Clay made the following statement:

“No single individual I know of has crossed the bridge between Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton, known every governor since Lester Maddox and is still of a youthful age. Matt is a loyal friend who would help anyone if in need. We thank the many who helped rescue him from this near tragedy.”

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