Originally created 02/28/04

Kerry, current flag lead in early poll



ATLANTA - North Carolina Sen. John Edwards has a big job ahead of him this weekend if he's going to slow rival Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's momentum by winning the Georgia primary, according to a poll released Friday.

The choice of state flag designs leans toward the current version.

The survey for Morris News Service and other outlets by InsiderAdvantage/Marketing Workshop shows Mr. Kerry with 50 percent of the respondents who say they're likely to vote in the Democratic primary Tuesday. Mr. Edwards has 20 percent, and the Rev. Al Sharpton has 4 percent, with Rep. Dennis Kucinich drawing just 1 percent. The telephone survey, conducted Wednesday and Thursday, has a margin of error of 6 percent.

"Edwards' best shot would be an unusually high turnout among voters who term themselves independent and moderates," said Matt Towery, the chairman of InsiderAdvantage.

"But this race will reverse only if John Edwards can increase his presence on TV or other mass media."

Many voters say Mr. Edwards' brief service in the Senate pales when compared with Mr. Kerry's 19 years, with terms as lieutenant governor and a district attorney before that.

"I just don't think four years in the Senate is enough to prepare you for the rigors of being president," Atlanta voter Anne Harper said.

Mr. Towery said the primary race is expected to tighten because 20 percent of those questioned still haven't made up their minds.

On the issue of the state flag, a third of those asked remain undecided. The red-and-white striped design now flying was the preference of 39 percent, while 28 percent liked the previous model with the blue field and the six miniature flags along the bottom.

Mr. Towery said there was no significant difference in how blacks and whites viewed the issue despite the fact that the current banner is modeled on the official standard of the Confederate States of America.

Atlanta voter Carlotta Harrell said she preferred the current flag because she thought keeping it would prevent the General Assembly from wasting time debating designs when serious issues needed attention.

"I'm going to vote for the new one," she said. "I think that issue needs to be put to rest."