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13 May 2014

Florida University Poll Says Governor Deal, Jason Carter Statistically Tied in Georgia

Republican Governor Nathan Deal is locked in a tight battle for re-election with Democratic challenger Jason Carter, according to a new poll by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. Jason Carter is the grandson of Jimmy Carter, former president and Georgia governor.

Governor Deal leads Carter by 38 to 35 percent among likely general election voters, but that advantage is within the survey's margin of error, and the race should be considered statistically tied. Seven percent of voters said they support Libertarian Andrew Hunt. Twenty percent of voters said they backed some other candidate or were undecided.

"Governor Deal maintains a narrow lead, but his support has eroded since his ten-point win in 2010," said Frank Orlando, instructor of political science at Saint Leo University. "In our poll, less than 40 percent of voters are committed to Deal, and this is concerning for an incumbent this late in the election year. Voters appear to have some reservation in supporting him, despite Deal being viewed favorably by 54 percent of voters in our sample, far surpassing his competitors."

Carter is competitive despite 26 percent of voters saying they haven't heard of him. Carter is viewed favorably by 32 percent of voters and unfavorably by 27 percent, for a net favorability rating of +5. Governor Deal's net favorability rating is +18, with 54 percent of voters holding favorable views and 36 percent holding unfavorable views toward him.

"Jason Carter's famous name gives him influence at the ballot box and with fundraising. Despite being the grandson of a former president, two in five voters don't know enough about him to form an opinion. Carter must find a way to use his name to his advantage to gain visibility while distancing himself from his grandfather's more liberal viewpoints that lean to the left of most Georgians today," said Orlando.

"Looking ahead, Deal needs to shore up his support among Republicans, as only seven in 10 GOP members show support for the incumbent," stated Orlando. "Because of the state's conservative tendency, Deal must ensure that he doesn't lose votes from co-partisans to both Carter and wild card Libertarian candidate, Andrew Hunt."