Originally created 02/07/98

Miller, Gingrich rising in public-opinion poll



ATLANTA -- A poll released Friday by Georgia State University shows Gov. Zell Miller is enjoying his highest popularity ever with a 77 percent approval rate among voters.

The same poll showed House Speaker Newt Gingrich has improved his approval rate among Georgians, but slightly more than half still view him unfavorably.

President Clinton's approval rating among Georgians remains essentially unchanged from the fall at 54 percent, according to the poll, despite the controversy involving former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

The poll was conducted by Georgia State's Applied Research Center Jan. 21 through Tuesday among 1,013 adults and has an error rate of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Mr. Miller, who is completing his second term in office and cannot seek re-election, has experienced a steady climb in popularity since 1993 when his approval rate stood at 47 percent in the aftermath of an unsuccessful bid to change the state flag.

Among other things, his lottery-funded HOPE scholarship program has been wildly popular among Georgia taxpayers. The program pays college tuition costs and fees for students who earn and keep a "B" average.

Forty-eight percent of Georgians held a favorable view of Mr. Gingrich, according to the poll. That's up 14 points from two years ago and is his best showing in that period.

Support for Mr. Clinton's performance is strongest among Georgia voters who identify themselves as Democrats, with 76 percent saying they approve of the way he is handling his job.