A surface glance at the poll’s findings reveals nothing too surprising. The race is still far away enough that roughly one out of every three voters has no opinion. And no candidate is either enjoying a big lead or is out of the running. But a deeper look into the poll’s top-line findings and its demographic crosstabs reveal some interesting trends.
InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery makes the following points:
• Barnes fares well, considering that he has been out of office for over six years, was beaten as an incumbent in 2002, and is a Democrat in a supposedly “red” state.
• The three leading GOP candidates all stand to run a strong general election race if they can emerge their party’s nominee. Consider that all are not that well known now, before they begin their TV ad blitzes. Cagle and Oxendine, although vaguely known by most Georgians, if at all, are in approximate statistical ties with the better-known Barnes when the poll’s margin of error (4%) is factored in; and Karen Handel isn’t too far behind. Obviously, all three Republicans earn support for being generic GOP placeholders against Democrat Barnes.
• The roughly one-third of black voters who are undecided in the poll will eventually collapse mostly for Barnes, the Democrat. That means that undecided whites and independents would have to break fairly heavily for the eventual Republican nominee, were he or she to face Barnes, for the GOP ticket-leader to win next year.
• Keep an eye on developments in Washington. Our poll shows that President Barack Obama’s approval rating in Georgia is 47%. That’s almost exactly the percentage of the general election vote he got in the state. But his disapproval rating is “only” 41%, which is about 8% less than John McCain got here. So Obama is doing relatively well in Georgia. For Roy Barnes or another Democrat to win the governor’s race, the president and the Democratic Congress probably have to maintain over the next year-and-a-half something like the support they enjoy now in Georgia.
• Most significantly, similar early polls in recent election cycles in Georgia have shown Republican candidates with something like 10% leads over Democrats in major statewide races. That the GOP has no such advantage right now says loudly that if Roy Barnes decides to run, he might need to pull in no more than about one-third of the now undecided white voters in order to make the 2010 race very tight.