Category: Polling Report


Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 15, 2014

James Carville quotes

Mrs. GaPundit and I went to the Atlanta History Center last night to see Mary Matalin and James Carville on the local stop of their book tour. Here are my favorite quotes from the night:

Matalin, discussing being in the White House on 9/11/2001 “Working in the White House may be your dream job, but you’ll never look worse in your life.”


Matalin on Zell Miller, “one of my favorite politicians is Zell Miller…he officiated at our wedding and got a standing ovation.”


Carville on the New Jersey bridge scandal, “The bridge scandal doesn’t matter, [Chris Christie] wasn’t ever going to be the Presidential candidate anyway. Ain’t nobody in the South voting for a global-warming loving, Obama-hugging Republican. Not happening.”


Carville on political candidates, “I like politicians. They do something few people are willing to do. They dare to fail publicly.”

That last bit is part of why I love working in politics. Especially the first-time candidates, or those who are just entering the big leagues from sandlot baseball.

Senate moves state election dates

We’ve been talking for some time about May 20th Primary elections, with the date being set for federal elections like U.S. Senate, by a federal judge. Yesterday, the Georgia Senate passed House Bill 310 by a 38-15 vote, setting the same date for state elections.

  • General Primary Qualifying Period: Begins at 9:00 a.m. on Monday of the 11th week prior to the General Primary and ends at 12:00 Noon on the Friday immediately following (March 3 – 7, 2014)
  • General Primary Election: Held on the 24th week preceding the November General Election (May 20, 2014)
  • General Primary Runoff: Held on the Tuesday of the 9th week following the General Primary (July 22, 2014)
  • General Election: Held on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November (November 4, 2014)
  • General Election Runoff: Held on the Tuesday of the 9th week following the General Election (January 6, 2015)

As of today, we are 125 days from the Primary Election.

That’s the driving reason for a short session – because state legislators and other elected officials can’t raise money during the session, but will be immediately into the campaign season when the session’s over, potentially affecting the traditional incumbent advantage in fundraising.

Will qualifying still be held in the Senate and House chambers as it has been in recent years? It’s unlikely, as the session will be continuing during the March 3-7 qualifying period.

More from the AJC:

HB 310 would also require all candidates to file a campaign finance report on March 31. That date, however, would appear mostly aimed at unelected challengers because incumbent state officials cannot raise money during the 40-day legislative session. With little or no fundraising to report, incumbents would have little to disclose by March 31.

The primary date change came about after U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones chastised Georgia officials last year for not giving military residents and other Georgians living overseas enough time to return absentee ballots by Election Day.

The primaries had originally been scheduled for July, but the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state over its practice of holding federal runoffs three weeks after an election.

The bill is expected to win quick passage in the House, which means Georgia voters would be casting their ballots before Memorial Day. Officials expect higher turnouts then than if they had held the primary in June — which Jones had originally ordered.

Candidate announcements

One of the challenger candidates who will be testing how it works with a short session and then going right into the election is Stacey Jackson, who is running for State House as a Republican against Democratic incumbent Debbie Buckner.

Successful Columbus criminal defense attorney Stacey Jackson confirmed Tuesday he will seek the Republican nomination for the Georgia House seat currently held by Democrat Debbie Buckner.

Jackson, who was raised in Harris County and still resides there, said the question is not why he should seek the District 137 seat, which covers Talbot County and parts of Harris, Meriwether, and Muscogee counties.

“The question is almost why not?” Jackson said Tuesday morning. “I grew up in Harris County. My father was an educator in Talbot County and the principal at Central-Talbotton in the 1980s before he move to Harris County-Carver Middle School. My mother is assistant principal at Harris County High School. I have relatives in Meriwether County and relatives in Columbus. It makes sense.”

It possibly sets up an interesting November race with Jackson, a black Republican, against Bucker, a white Democrat, in a district that is slightly majority black and heavily rural once you get out of the Midland area of Columbus.

Mary Helen Moses has announced that she will run for Superior Court in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, which comprises Appling, Camden, Glynn, Jeff Davis and Wayne counties. We’re not sure if this is a challenge to a sitting judge, an open seat, or one that was newly-created. We’ve asked and will pass on that information when we are able.

On polling

InsiderAdvantage, for whom I work part-time, is releasing today new polling on issues in Georgia’s legislature. Several of the items will blow your mind, when they’re released, probably first via InsiderAdvantage email, then by Fox 5 Atlanta and Morris News. Stay tuned for more, but here’s the first piece. In a 2613-respondent sample (margin of error = +/-1.92) self-identified Republicans outnumber Democrats by a five-point margin.

I was on the radio yesterday with Martha Zoller and Tim Bryant, discussing this very question, and I said that I think there’s a 5-to-10 point Republican margin. The exact figures are 35.2% Republican, 34.16% Independent, and 30.42% Democratic.

Why does this matter? Because assumptions about the partisan ratio within the electorate underlie most political polls. And the AJC thinks there are more self-identified Democrats than Republicans. It appears that their poll released earlier this week was weighted in a way that created that Democratic advantage, which didn’t exist in their raw data, and which inflates Jason Carter’s numbers in the poll question about the Governor’s race. Advantage, Deal.

Governor Deal to give State of the State today at noon

state state 1

We’ll be there, live-tweeting the State of the State today, starting at noon. Click here for a Twitter list of Georgia State Reps and Senators – it’ll be a great place to keep track of the State of the State and the rest of the legislative session. And follow @GaPundit and my personal Twitter, @toddmr.

Click here to watch online. Last night, Gov. Deal’s web team dropped this Sneak Peek.

The bullet points in his Sneak Peek:

•  Improve Education
• Increase Public School Funding
• Expand HOPE Scholarship
•  Promote Job Creation
•  Business-Friendly Investments
• Expand the Port of Savannah
• Reform the Criminal Justice System

Senate Press Office “Senate in a Minute”

We love this new video feature from the Senate Press Office. The most-recent features Senator Judson Hill. This is must-watch video for political junkies. Thanks to Senate Press for bringing this to the citizens of Georgia.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 13, 2013

Today at 10 AM, the 2014 Session of the Georgia General Assembly will be gaveled into what passes for order.

On January 13, 1733, the ship Ann (sometimes spelled “Anne”) sailed into Charles Town harbor and was met by South Carolina Governor Robert Johnson and the Speaker of the Commons House of Assembly. Aboard the ship were James Oglethorpe and the first 114 colonists of what would become Georgia. Later that year they would land at a high bluff on the Savannah River and found the city of Savannah.

On January 13, 1959, Ernest Vandiver was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia.

On January 13, 1982, Hank Aaron was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

This day in 1987 saw the inauguration of Governor Joe Frank Harris to his second term in office.

On January 13, 1998, Governor Zell Miller presented his $12.5 billion FY1999 budget to the Georgia General Assembly, including $105,000 to provide CDs of classical music for every baby born in the state. According to the New York Times,

“No one questions that listening to music at a very early age affects the spatial, temporal reasoning that underlies math and engineering and even chess,” the Governor said[]. “Having that infant listen to soothing music helps those trillions of brain connections to develop.”

Mr. Miller said he became intrigued by the connection between music and child development at a series of recent seminars sponsored by the Education Commission of the States. As a great-grandfather and the author of “They Hear Georgia Singing” (Mercer University Press, 1983), an encyclopedia of the state’s musical history, Mr. Miller said his fascination came naturally.

He said that he had a stack of research on the subject, but also that his experiences growing up in the mountains of north Georgia had proved convincing.

“Musicians were folks that not only could play a fiddle but they also were good mechanics,” he said. “They could fix your car.”

Legislators, as is their wont, have ideas of their own.

“I asked about the possibility of some Charlie Daniels or something like that,” said Representative Homer M. (Buddy) DeLoach, a Republican from Hinesville, “but they said they thought the classical music has a greater positive impact.”

“Having never studied those impacts too much,” Mr. DeLoach added, “I guess I’ll just have to take their word for that at the moment.”

In 2003, on January 13 at the Georgia Dome, Sonny Perdue took the oath of office as Georgia’s second Republican Governor, the first since Reconstruction.

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

There’s a lot of data that has been released in the AJC poll, and I’m working on a poll of my own right now, so I haven’t had time to dive into the AJC’s results in depth yet, so I’ll just offer a few tidbits here. The AJC poll released on the Governor’s race shows the following:

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll of 802 registered voters showed Deal with 47 percent support in a head-to-head matchup against 38 percent for state Sen. Jason Carter, his likely Democratic opponent.

But for sophisticated analysts, here’s the money quote:

Among respondents, 44 percent identified themselves as a Democrat or Democratic-leaning, while 43 percent identified as Republican or Republican-leaning.

That, my friends, is simply inconceivable. I believe that there currently exists a +10 point Republican advantage in the electorate. How did this happen? Let’s look at the raw data, which to their credit, the AJC released.

AJC Poll Detail

The first line of numbers represents the “raw” or “unweighted” results. Weighting was then added to bring the sample in line with the expected demographics of the electorate. The second line depicts the results after applying weighting. One thing stands out clearly in the totals under PARTY. The original sample, before weighting, showed an advantage in Party Identification for Republicans by 240 to 212. After weighting this becomes a 224-196 advantage for Democrats.

We’ve discussed previously how weighting for partisanship or correlated factors can effect the outcome of a ballot question in a poll. An chief among the correlated factors that can effect the outcome of a ballot question are race. Looking again at the table above, it appears that weighting was applied to the race of the poll respondents to bring it more in line with the pollster’s expectations. The question is whether the assumptions underlying the model are realistic. We shall discuss that later.

The difference here is enough to shift the electorate from a Republican-advantage to a Democratic advantage, and that will have the effect of lowering Governor Deal’s numbers and raising Jason Carters through the magic of mathematics.

Last week, another poll was released by, for whom I work. I will note that I did not conduct this poll, nor did I have anything to do with the analysis or writeup of it. That poll showed Governor Deal with a 44-22 advantage over Jason Carter and it was weighted by partisan identification, which I don’t believe in doing. I’ll see if I can get the raw data for that poll and present an in-depth analysis of the two polls side-by-side. Stay tuned.

2014 Session of the General Assembly

Today at 10 AM, the 2014 Session of the General Assembly will open at 10 AM. The legislature is aiming to adjourn Sine Die on or about March 16, 2014.

Instead of the traditional week off for Appropriations meetings, there will be substituted a single meeting on January 15th from 1:00 to 6:00 PM.

The General Assembly will meet in session on Monday through Friday of this week. After taking Monday, January 20, 2014 off for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, session will resume on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 through Friday January 24, 2014. Each day’s session is projected to start at 10 AM, and we will update this as the week progresses.

General Assembly Meetings on January 13, 2014
Convening of Georgia General Assembly
Starts: 10:00 AM
Ends: January 13, 2014 11:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Location: Georgia Capitol, Washington Street Southwest, Atlanta, GA


Senate HHS Committee
Starts: 1:30 PM
Ends: January 13, 2014 2:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Location: 450 CAP


Adoption of Rules
SB 141 (Beach-21st) “Patient Injury Act”; create an alternative medical malpractice litigation.

Senate Ethics Committee
Starts: 2:30 PM
Ends: January 13, 2014 3:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: 125 CAP

General Assembly Meetings on January 14, 2014
Session (Projected)
Starts: 10:00 AM
Ends: January 14, 2014 12:00 PM – 12:00 PM


Lieutenant Governor’s Foster Care Reform Initiative Working Group
Starts: 1:30 PM
Ends: January 14, 2014 3:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: 307 CLOB


House Insurance Committee
Starts: 2:00 PM
Ends: January 14, 2014 4:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: 606 CLOB

General Assembly Meetings on January 15, 2014 12:00 AM


Georgia Chamber: Eggs & Issues Breakfast
Starts: 7:30 AM
Ends: January 15, 2014 9:30 AM – 9:30 AM
Location: Georgia World Congress Center, Andrew Young International Boulevard Northwest, Atlanta, GA, United States


Session (Projected)
Starts: 10:00 AM
Ends: January 15, 2014 12:00 PM – 12:00 PM


State of the State Address
Starts: 12:00 Noon
Ends: January 15, 2014 1:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Location: Georgia Capitol, Washington Street Southwest, Atlanta, GA


Starts: 1:00 PM
Ends: January 15, 2014 6:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Location: 341 CA


Georgia voters positive about the state, but not guns |

Georgians are generally bullish about the direction of their state but want lawmakers to remain focused on boosting an economy and job market that voters say remains weak, according to a new poll conducted for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A majority of registered voters say the state is headed in the right direction, with 51 percent saying they are satisfied with Georgia’s course and 7 percent who say they are very satisfied. But, asked whether their personal financial situation is better or worse than five years ago, or if jobs are readily available in their communities, voters are much less optimistic.

Voters indicated that they generally support the job state lawmakers are doing. The poll showed 45 percent of respondents approve of the General Assembly’s job performance, compared with 39 percent who disapprove.

But when it comes to one of the top priorities for 2014 for the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, voters gave a resounding thumbs down. The GOP leadership in both chambers wants to greatly expand where gun owners can carry firearms. But voters in the poll by majorities exceeding 70 percent said it was a bad idea to allow owners to carry guns on college campuses, into churches and other locations.

The poll, conducted by Abt SRBI of New York, surveyed 802 adults statewide between Jan. 6 and Jan. 9 on what issues Georgians want their Legislature to tackle in 2014. The margin of error for each response is plus or minus 4 percentage points. The poll was conducted by live operators and included respondents via cellphone and landline.

via Georgia voters positive about the state, but not guns |


Polling favors Deal at this stage |

Gov. Nathan Deal has a healthy advantage as he prepares to ask voters for a second term, but uneasiness over the economy could leave an opening for his Democratic rival. And the wild race for a U.S. Senate seat remains just as wide open as expected.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll of 802 registered voters showed Deal with 47 percent support in a head-to-head matchup against 38 percent for state Sen. Jason Carter, his likely Democratic opponent.Continue Reading..


AJC survey: Nathan Deal has lead; no front-runner in Senate race | Political Insider blog

I have an issue with this poll: the partisan self-identification of the sample appears to be skewed Democratic. We’ll talk more about what this means on Monday morning in the email newsletter.

Deal has 47 percent support in a head-to-head matchup against 38 percent for Carter, his likely Democratic opponent. Deal’s support hit 50 percent when voters were asked whether they leaned toward either candidate.

The survey, conducted by SRBI Inc., polled 802 registered voters between Jan. 6 and Jan. 9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Some 44 percent of the respondents identified themselves as a Democrat or Democrat-leaning, while 43 percent identified as Republican or Republican-leaning.

via AJC survey: Nathan Deal has lead; no front-runner in Senate race | Political Insider blog.


Rasmussen: low approval ratings for Congress, Senate

Of course, a generic approve/disapprove question in a poll doesn’t always translate into bad ratings for incumbents within their districts, or it wouldn’t be the case that incumbents are overwhelmingly reelected. But it can make it tough for, say, a Congressman in one of fourteen districts in Georgia, who decides to run statewide.

From Rasmussen:

Over half of voters think both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives are doing a poor job, but nearly as many also prefer having them run by different political parties the way Congress is now.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 12% of Likely U.S. Voters think the U.S. Senate is doing a good or excellent job. Fifty-three percent (53%) rate the Senate’s performance as poor.

Nineteen percent (19%) of voters believe the House is doing a good or excellent job, while 51% view its performance as poor.Continue Reading..

Jan Poll: GA GOP voters approve of Deal’s performance by 3:1 margin

A poll conducted this weekend by shows that voters approve of Governor Deal’s handling of job growth by a better than 3-1 margin.

Asked “Do you approve or disapprove of the job Governor Nathan Deal is doing in bringing new jobs to Georgia?” 60.1 percent of past Republican Primary voters answered affirmatively, while 18.6 do not approve of Deal’s performance and 21.3 percent are undecided.


A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling in December and November of 2012 showed self-identified Republicans giving Deal a job performance approval/disapproval rating of 58/20, with 23% not sure.

Last week, Fox5Atlanta noted a poll showing Governor Deal with a 55-29 approval/disapproval rating in another poll.

InsiderAdvantage/FOX 5 political analyst Matt Towery said the poll results weren’t surprising.

Towery said that the results suggest that Deal would be a strong candidate if he chooses to run for a second term next year.

“At this point I would say that Gov. Deal is about as popular as a governor in this region of the nation can get. We used to require approval of 50 percent to say a governor was in good shape for reelection, but that bar moved several years ago to around 45 percent, so Gov. Deal is sitting pretty as of now,” Towery said.

A poll commissioned by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and released two weeks ago showed Deal with a 51% “favorable approval rating” among all voters, but did not meet the minimal requirements for disclosure of a poll under industry and academic standards.

Click here for a copy of the script and research methodology.

Jan Poll: Sonny Perdue leads the field for 2014 U.S. Senate race

With support from 24 percent of past Republican Primary voters, former two-term Governor Sonny Perdue leads among the serious potential candidates who have not foreclosed the possibility of running for the Republican nomination for United State Senate in 2014 following the announcement by Senator Saxby Chambliss that he will not seek reelection.


Former Fulton County Commission Chair and Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel comes in second with 15 percent, reflecting a strong 2012 Gubernatorial campaign in which she came in first in the Republican Primary before losing the runoff to then-Congressman Nathan Deal.

Four Republican Congressmen, Paul Broun, Tom Graves, Tom Price, and Lynn Westmoreland hover in the range from six to ten percent; I’d guess any other incumbent GOP Congressman would score similarly.

The Gender Factor

The following table shows that sixty percent of Handel’s support comes from women, significantly higher than any other potential candidate, and nearly 64% of undecided respondents are women, showing some upside for Handel in a demographic that has been a weakness for the GOP lately. With an identical number of male respondents choosing Handel and Congressman Tom Price, whose geographic bases overlap, Handel’s lead over Price comes entirely from additional female votes.SenateCrosstabGenderRows

At the same time, Governor Perdue’s strong lead overall means that he still attracts more votes from women overall.


Click here for a copy of the script and research methodology.


The Daily Show on Polls and Pundits


Weighty matters: confirmation bias and polling

A little less than ten years ago, the firm I worked for was commissioned to poll the Georgia general election. We included a ballot question for the Governor’s race, which I often like to include because it gives us a benchmark by which to compare our surveys against other publicly-released surveys. At the time every single poll that was published had Barnes winning:

In the final poll taken before the 2002 Georgia gubernatorial election, incumbent Roy Barnes held an eleven point lead over his Republican challenger, Sonny Perdue (Salzer 2002a). This was hardly surprising. Barnes, a first- term Democrat, had led in every public poll taken since the campaign began (Dart 2002), and Perdue never edged closer than seven percentage points until election day (Beiler 2003).

When our sample came back showing Perdue with a narrow victory, I simply didn’t believe it. I was scared to give the client a survey analysis that included something that was so clearly wrong because it would lead the client to doubt everything else in the poll. I actually asked management to authorize a re-sample, and when it came back still showing a Perdue victory, I sheepishly gave the results to our clients.

We now know what happened several days later.

Once Georgians had their say on November 5, however, Barnes’ defeat was more than stunning—it was historic. Not only had Perdue overcome what seemed to be insurmountable polling and fundraising disadvantages, his election broke a Democratic stranglehold on the Georgia governorship that had kept the GOP out since Reconstruction. For a Republican running for governor in Georgia, Perdue won an unprecedented share of the vote among rural whites, an indication of a continuing realignment in favor of the GOP (Wyman 2002, 3). In winning 51 percent of the vote, Perdue had broad support, carrying 118 of the state’s 159 counties.

Continue Reading..