ATLANTA -- Political newcomer David Perdue is topping a poll of likely voters in the Republican Senate primary released Thursday by InsiderAdvantage that was conducted for Morris News and FOX5 in Atlanta.
When surveyed Sunday and Monday, 17 percent said they were supporting Perdue, the former chief executive of Reebok and Dollar General and the cousin of Georgia’s last governor.
Savannah Congressman Jack Kingston is in second with 15 percent, although effectively tied with Perdue by coming within the poll’s 3.26 percent margin of error. Next are Athens Congressman Paul Broun, 10 percent; Marietta Congressman Phil Gingrey, 8 percent; former Secretary of State Karen Handel, 5 percent and “other” with 1 percent. The poll did not ask about Derrick Grayson or Art Gardner who never won election or raised significant sums.
The biggest group of voters, 44 percent, remains undecided about the May 20 primary even though early voting begins in one month on April 28. So far, Perdue and Kingston are the only candidates who have begun airing television ads.
This latest poll is in line with two recently released surveys. All have the same order for the candidates, although the percentages differ.
“It’s clear that Perdue’s strategic decision to invest in an early television media buy is paying off,” said Mark Rountree, president of Landmark Communications, Inc. “His ads have had an impact on voters. In fact, the two candidates who have invested in television ads, Perdue and Kingston, have seen the largest increase in support among voters.”
Landmark produced one of the recent polls along with Rosetta Stone Communications. It was conducted the same time at InsiderAdvantage’s and released Wednesday. SurveyUSA released its poll last week.
The InsiderAdvantage results came from what company president Matt Towery describes as a “super poll” because it randomly selects responses from 434 voters contacted by telephone and 459 questioned by online survey. Just among those contacted by phone, Broun edged Kingston out slightly to take second place, although the difference between them falls within the margin of error.
“The three polls make one thing clear: businessman David Perdue is leading the race. His standout TV ad has pushed him ahead of more seasoned politicians and may well keep him headed toward a runoff in this primary,” Towery said.
The large number of undecided voters suggests that the race will be determined by television advertising since the support of those candidates not on the air is too little to get any of them into a runoff. That makes fundraising critical, something Broun and Handel have never excelled at.
Execution is also important, since Perdue and Kingston have each spent about $1 million in ads so far, but the newcomer has gotten far more mileage than Kingston.
“My best guess is that a little more than half of the likely voters have chosen a candidate,” Towery said. “There is more than enough room for Mr. Perdue and Mr. Kingston to separate themselves from the others and move to a runoff, or for one of the other candidates to replace Mr. Kingston in the second-place position. But that will have to take place thru a strong television-ad campaign.”