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 survey Wednesday night of 338 registered voters who say they would vote in the GOP primary if it were held today has a margin of error of 5.7 percentage points.
Deal commanded 50 percent, while Dalton Mayor David Pennington, who announced this week he is challenging Deal, received 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.
U.S. Reps. Jack Kingston, at 17 percent; Phil Gingrey, at 15 percent; and Paul Broun, at 11 percent, 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 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 questioned poll participants about Georgia’s biggest political news of the week: the next day’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 took opposite positions on whether the regulators should require the company to double its access to solar power.
The all-Republican PSC 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 that 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.