It also shows Nathan Deal taking two-thirds of the GOP primary to be nominated for re-election as governor while David Pennington pulls 10 percent and John Barge takes 5.
A Morris News Service/Fox5 telephone poll conducted Sunday evening by InsiderAdvantage and OpinionSavvy shows a very tight contest for the second runoff slot against Perdue for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate. The winner of the July runoff will face Libertarian Amanda Swafford and most likely Michelle Nunn, the overwhelming leader in the Democratic primary.
Perdue, with 26 percent, has a 9 point lead over Handel and Kingston’s 17. Phil Gingrey has 11 percent while Paul Broun has 10 percent, leaving them effectively tied since the difference between the two of them is less than the 3.4 percent margin of error.
The survey of 852 likely voters was weighted for age, race and gender to reflect the turnout of the 2010 primary. Undecided stands at 18 percent in the Senate race and 23 percent in the gubernatorial one.
Compared to recent polls, Perdue and Kingston have lost a little support while Handel and Gingrey gained. The undecided grew.
The last-minute shifting comes in the wake of a flood of television ads and attacks against Perdue for comments he made to the Macon Telegraph that his opponents said showed his openness to tax increases, despite his denial and his signed pledge not to raise taxes.
“Around the state, it’s not an issue, honestly,” Perdue said Saturday during the last of his eight-day bus tour. “People are tired of this negativism that comes out of career politicians desperate to keep their jobs.”
Pollster Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage and a former GOP campaign strategist, notes that the negative messages are effective in sowing doubt and may dampen turnout.
“Typically when we see the undecided total spike right before an election, it means that some voters are abandoning their earlier choice and are either thinking about switching horses or are considering not voting,” he said. “My guess is this is a little of both. And given that most candidates gave up ground, the two most likely recipients of those votes would be Handel and Gingrey.”
The candidates and their supporters should expect a late night waiting the final results, Tower warns. That’s because Handel’s home county of Fulton usually is among the last to report, and her strength there will determine whether she makes the runoff.
Already, 239,281 votes have been cast in the three-week early voting period compared to 212,487 in the seven-week period of 2010.
“The numbers make it clear that Georgia voters are increasingly taking advantage of early voting opportunities,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
Of those already cast, two were for the GOP primary for every Democratic ballot.
Kemp said early voting had few glitches across the state.
“This early voting period was an extremely smooth process,” he said. “I appreciate the work of my staff, the county election officials and the many poll workers and volunteers who worked so hard.”