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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