ATLANTA — David Perdue and Nathan Deal continue to lead in their GOP primaries in a voter survey released Thursday, and it shows that Karen Handel is gaining ground.
Handel, Georgia’s former secretary of state, is now in third place in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate behind Perdue, a former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General, and Jack Kingston, a congressman from Savannah. Recent polls had placed Handel at 5 percent or so and back in fifth place.
Her prospects are being buoyed by recent endorsements from Sarah Palin and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer as well as news about a slight from Perdue who had dismissed her candidacy at a forum because she never finished college.
The survey by InsiderAdvantage for Morris News and Fox5 of Atlanta shows Perdue with 19 percent, Kingston, 15 and Handel at 13. It has a 3.4 percent margin of error, meaning Handel and Kingston are essentially tied for second place.
Rounding out the Senate contest are Paul Broun, an Athens congressman, at 11 percent and Marietta Congressman Phil Gingrey at 9 percent. One in three of the 804 voters surveyed who intend to vote in the Republican primary remain undecided about who should get the party’s Senate nomination. The remaining 1 percent were spilt between Art Gardner, an Atlanta attorney, and Derrick Grayson, an engineer with Atlanta’s transit system.
Pollster Matt Towery, a one-time GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, said both Broun and Gingrey are showing little traction.
“Handel shows the most momentum at the moment,” he said. “Kingston has solidified second place with his more recent ‘Obamacare’ ad featuring images of Barack Obama engaged in a leaving a faux voicemail for Kingston. But his first round of ads featuring an old station wagon clearly hurt him with female voters who tend to dominate the metro-Atlanta electorate.”
Handel’s campaign manager Corry Bliss, stressed that she has spent little on advertising while Perdue and Kingston have each invested more than $1 million on television.
“We feel confident that as we spread Karen’s message of achieving conservative results, we will continue to grow our momentum,” he said.
In the Republican governor’s race, the incumbent Deal has 61 percent 10 days before the start of early voting, putting him on track to win re-nomination easily. David Pennington, the former mayor of Dalton, has the support of just 7 percent while John Barge, the state superintendent of schools, can only claim 4 percent. There are still 28 percent undecided, but even if they all turnout for one of the challengers, Deal wins without a runoff.
InsiderAdvantage conducted the poll Sunday, Monday and Tuesday both online and with automated telephone calls to people randomly selected from voter-registration records. Then the responses from the two surveys were randomly selected and weighted to reflect the age, gender and political affiliation in the state’s general population.
Towery said the high number of undecided in the Senate race suggests a low turnout. He said that was probably because the governor’s contest is so one-sided.