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Research 2000's latest poll takes us to the great state of Georgia, and tests several possible matchups for the United States Senate race (featuring incumbent Republican Johnny Isakson) and the gubernatorial race (featuring a cast of thousands).

We were not expecting much from the Senate numbers, as Isakson is generally considered more or less safe, if not invulnerable. So the results took us somewhat by surprise.

We tested two guys who probably aren't going to run: former Governor Roy Barnes (who seems to have his eye trained on a return to Atlanta, as opposed to Washington), and U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall (who seems content holding a solidly Republican seat in the House). They polled surprisingly well:

Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 4/27-29. Registered voters. MoE 4%. (No trend lines)

Johnny Isakson (R-inc) 47
Roy Barnes (D) 43

Johnny Isakson (R-inc) 48
Jim Marshall (D) 40

Who knew? Isakson is under 50%, and just four points up on the former Governor. Furthermore, his favorability is really low, at just 47/41 favorable/unfavorable. One would have expected much stronger numbers from Isakson, who is generally considered the reasonable, likable alternative to Saxby Chambliss.

We used Barnes and Marshall as stand-ins for "strong Democrat". Barnes will run for Governor if he runs for anything, and Marshall has shown no indication that he wants to move up. But this could turn into an interesting flanking race if some wealthy self-funder or enterprising young State Senator were to take a flier.

Speaking of the Governor's race, we polled that, too. We pitted Republicans John Oxendine (state Insurance Commissioner) and Karen Handel (Secretary of State) against Democrats Barnes, Thurbert Baker (Attorney General), and David Poythress (former Secretary of State and Labor Commissioner).

This race is wide open.

John Oxendine (R) 46
Roy Barnes (D) 44

John Oxendine (R) 47
Thurbert Baker (D) 42

John Oxendine (R) 47
David Poythress (D) 43

Roy Barnes (D) 45
Karen Handel (R) 39

Thurbert Baker (D) 42
Karen Handel (R) 40

David Poythress (D) 43
Karen Handel (R) 39

All three Democrats trail Oxendine by a little bit, and lead Handel by a little bit.

We did not poll the primary, but what polling there has been (and conventional wisdom) suggest that the primary is Barnes' to lose if he runs, and Baker's to lose if Barnes doesn't run.

If all three candidates are in, it is possible that Baker (the only African-American in the race) could take the lion's share of the black vote in both a primary and a runoff. Depending on how substantial black turnout is, that alone could make him the nominee.

Everyone in the field enjoys positive favorability, including President Obama:

                  Favorable  Unfavorable    Net

Karen Handel (R)     39         21          18
Thurbert Baker (D)   39         22          17
Jim Marshall (D)     41         25          16
David Poythress (D)  37         25          12
Roy Barnes (D)       45         35          10
John Oxendine (R)    44         35           9
Johnny Isakson (R)   47         41           6
Barack Obama (D)     49         46           3

Again, the Isakson numbers are the ones that really stick out.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:44 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The "Mule Dude" didn't even poll? (9+ / 0-)

    Hmmmpf. . .

    "It's been headed this way since the World began, when a vicious creature made the jump from Monkey to Man."--Elvis Costello

    by BigOkie on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:46:51 PM PDT

  •  Jim Marshall one of my favorite (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skywaker9, RTAtlanta

    Congressmen. He's standing up to bailout and debt nation.

    When the dow hits 20,000, i will say mission accomplished, president obama.

    by sensiblecentrist on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:46:57 PM PDT

    •  Actually, I think Marshall (0+ / 0-)

      voted for the bailout in Sept 2008. I remember he was criticized for it then.

    •  Marshall has about 350K (0+ / 0-)

      Not a bad start should he be interested.

      Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

      by Scarce on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:52:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Marshall is pure Blue Dog, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, Perspective

        so I disagree with him on nearly everything. Especially his support of Bush's War. But this is Georgia, so a Deaniac is not going to win anything statewide.

        It sure would be a shocker to get a Dem into one of Georgia's Senate seats. Jim's a smart guy with an incredibly sellable military life-story.

        I think I'll contact his office, encourage him to run and see if they will say whether or not he is considering such an option.

        "She was very young,he thought,...she did not understand that to push an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing." -1984

        by aggressiveprogressive on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:29:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  He's my congressman (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Perspective, realnrh, MPociask

      He was quite possibly the only Democratic Rep. facing a serious election challenge in a red district to vote for TARP.  I was pretty impressed by that as it would have certainly been the safer move to vote against it like every other blue dog did.

      That being said he's not really great.  His campaign commercials last year had a heavy undertone of "I hate illegal immigrants way more than my opponent".  He generally toes the line on his voting record and he's usually one of the five most conservative Democrats in the House.  But that's what you have to be in a district like this in south Georgia, so I don't blame him.  I have no idea how he'd play statewide, as his election success so far is pretty much entirely due to his tenure as the mayor of Macon, which is far from Atlanta and most of the state's population.

      Yes, there are progressives in the rural South. 50 States.

      by Racht on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:35:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Isakson has about $2.5 million cash on hand (5+ / 0-)

    Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

    by Scarce on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:48:31 PM PDT

  •  This is scary :) (0+ / 0-)

  •  Wow... Johnny Isakson is surprisingly weak. (6+ / 0-)

    We might have a good pickup opportunity here.

    Even though whatever democrat gets elected in Georgia will probably be more conservative than we'd like, hell I'd take them over Isakson any day of the week.

  •  Quite informative (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skywaker9, Susan Leonard

    Thank you for the information.  We need a strong, progressive, Democratic candidate for both the Governorship and the next open senatorial seat (since Chambliss unfortunately locked up his seat for another 6 years).

  •  Can we please find another Democrat besides (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Jim Marshall? He's a very nice man, but he's not a very good candidate. Are there no other possibilities to run in Ga?

    "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan

    by atlliberal on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:52:05 PM PDT

    •  Hard to think anyone who is not (0+ / 0-)

      in the right-wing of our party could win statewide.

      None of us in Atlanta would be able to do it the way Georgia is right now.

      "She was very young,he thought,...she did not understand that to push an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing." -1984

      by aggressiveprogressive on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:31:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think someone who is moderate (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TheUnknown285, MPociask

        but willing to stand up for what they believe in could possibly win here. People will vote for someone who they don't agree with on everything as long as they think he's a standup guy. They hate the mushy wishy washy types who will say what they think the voters want to hear.

        "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan

        by atlliberal on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:34:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Makes sense. (0+ / 0-)

          I just am not aware of anyone with the name recognition or the fund-raising ability who fits such a profile. But I keep thinking that we're a major metropolitan area, there surely must be someone who could be that candidate.

          Too bad Ted Turner moved away.

          "She was very young,he thought,...she did not understand that to push an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing." -1984

          by aggressiveprogressive on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:43:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I wish Ted would start a cable news channel (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            that actually reports the news, and doesn't go for the lowest common denominator trying to catch up with FOX.

            "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan

            by atlliberal on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 04:42:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I think Marshall is a good candidate. (0+ / 0-)

      Really, if he weren't a good candidate, he wouldn't have been elected in 2002 and re-elected every year since.

      But I don't think he'd be a good candidate for Senate, simply because I think he's much more conservative than the average Georgia Democrat.

  •  Well, Johnny is safe (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Radlein, beachmom, MPociask

    until some Dem with some state wide name recognition and lots of money gets in the race.  Right now, we have no one.  

    Obama would be perfect if he were a Cubs fan.

    by Georgia Liberal on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:52:49 PM PDT

  •  Likable alternative? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dle2GA, MPociask

    It's possible that Isakson is seen as the more moderate of the two by the Republican crazy base. Democrats/Independents don't like either of them equally while Republicans like Saxby more than Isakson. Either way they are two pees in a pod. They can't stop talking about how much they love each other and are such buddy buddy Senators.

    I'd love to have a D from Georgia in the Senate but I believe this is as close as these numbers will get. Unless Obama captures OBL, grows the GDP by 25% and cures cancer in the next two years I don't see Georgia getting more favorable to Democrats. I'd say this is the high water mark.

    The Great Depression: Now In Color!

    by TheChop on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:53:42 PM PDT

    •  I think we could pull it off...IF (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ray Radlein

      and it's a big IF we could find a candidate who is willing to put it on the line and not pander to the right wing in the state. Josh Lanier impressed me as the kind of guy who could win here. He's very direct and would do very well debating Isakson. Unfortunately I don't think he really wants to run, judging by how he ran his last campaign.

      "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan

      by atlliberal on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:57:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Isakson on Health Care Reform (0+ / 0-)


    Another dumbass.

    Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

    by Scarce on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:54:43 PM PDT

  •  Horsley! Horsley! Horsley! n/t (5+ / 0-)

    Blagojevich/Palin '12.

    by fou on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:55:19 PM PDT

  •  Can we poll AZ-Sen? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Anyone else curious to see how the astronaut's wife Gabriel Giffords (AZ-8) might fare against McCain?

  •  Is Isakson not very constituent friendly? (0+ / 0-)

    I mean those numbers are R I D I C U L O U S based on what I know about GA.

    Sorry I have to run to the Senate floor to abolish torture.

    by bten on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:07:22 PM PDT

    •  He never replies to letters (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheUnknown285, dle2GA, MPociask

      I can't imagine it's any better if you call him for something. (Of course they probably know my name by now). At least Saxby replies every time telling me how proud he is to be voting the exact opposite way I asked him to.

      "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan

      by atlliberal on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:28:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I sometimes get form e-mail replies from Isakson (0+ / 0-)

        maybe 1 out of every 20 I send him gets a response.  Suxby, on the other hand, replies twice to every e-mail I send him.  I'm not sure which approach I prefer, as they both suck.

      •  I got a bite from him. (0+ / 0-)

        I actually got a response for him when the IRS screwed up my tax return this year.  He and Chambliss wrote me back and offered to help.  Phil Gingrey didn't even write back.  I guess he was too busy getting teabagged.

  •  Isakson (6+ / 0-)

    Isakson's real strength in Georgia has always been among moderates, independents, and even, to some extent, Democrats. He has consistently been more popular with the public at large than with Republicans, and more popular with Republicans than with GOP leadership. When I first moved to Georgia, he was the only Republican I could find who wasn't a flaming lunatic.


    However, that was before he ran for Senate.

    In order to win the GOP primary against a pair of opponents who were considerably to the right of him, he moved significantly rightwards. At the time, it seemed an unnecessary move — after all, his opponents were well on a heavily-financed course to split the idiot fringe vote between them, and were spending all of their money attacking each other in a bid to out-wingnut each other, largely ignoring Isakson.

    All I could figure at the time was that Isakson calculated that he could move to the right, skim off some of their support, and still hold on to the socially moderate "I don't care who sleeps with whom as long as my taxes are low" suburban Atlanta Republicans, who certainly weren't going to abandon him in favor of two politicians significantly more right-wing than him. I assumed that he was simply going all-out to avoid a run-off, for fear that if he were held under 50%, his opponents' supporters would line up behind their survivor and take him out in the run-off.

    And he did, indeed, avoid a run-off, and went on to win the general; but, much to my consternation, he never moved back towards the center where he had spent so many years before. I've kept hoping that he would, at some point, return to his pre-Senate form as a mostly sane guy; but he has mainly contented himself with being a right-wing platitude-mouthing nonentity. I am very disappointed in him.

    All I can assume, therefore, is that his move to the right has, in the long term, cost him some of the considerable goodwill that he had built up with the general electorate over the years, while not replacing it with hard support from the right-wing fringe, which probably still views him with suspicion (if not actually thinking of him as still being "too liberal," like, say, Lindsay Graham).

    "I play a street-wise pimp" — Al Gore

    by Ray Radlein on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:27:07 PM PDT

  •  Take back the South! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The only thing better than beating the Republicans everywhere but their new stronghold is to beat them in that stronghold.  The sooner the current iteration of the Republican party is crushed to a pulp, the sooner it will reform itself into something less toxic.

  •  And if you don't go to school....... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Susan Leonard

    you might grow up to fuck a mule.

  •  A Grain Of Salt... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Mostly, I notice that each of the three polled Democrats in the gubernatorial race gets about the same numbers against either of the two Republicans polled. Given the partisan lean of Georgia, that mid-forties level of support might be relatively easy for any Democrat to achieve, but the next five percent extremely difficult. It is a state-level race, so I certainly wouldn't rule out a Democratic win, and these numbers look a lot better than I'd have thought, but I still think this will end up being a tough place for Democrats to win. Not impossible, and I'm all for taking the attack onto Republican turf, but tough. Anything that forces Republicans onto defense is good, though!

    NH4JL DIT '04, NHDP DIT '08!

    by realnrh on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:35:48 PM PDT

  •  Whoever wrote this post (6+ / 0-)

    is obviously not familiar with either Georgia or Blacks in Georgia.

    To think that just because Thurbert Baker is Black he will get "the lion's share of the Black vote" is both ignorant and insulting.

    Thurbert Baker is NOT popular among many Blacks (esp the voting Blacks who pay attention to news stories) because of his predatory prosection of Genarlow Wilson, a young Black guy convicted of having CONSENSUAL sex with a White girl like two years younger than him.  When the conviction was overturned, Baker tried to appeal the case!  News-savvy Black voters remember this and he is now stigmatized.  The local talk radio shows have helped remind people about Baker.

    So fyi to the writer, all Blacks don't get the "lion's share of the Black vote" just because of the color of their skin.

    rolling eyes

    •  Agreed (0+ / 0-)

      I am totally not sold on Baker.  I worry his "law and order" credentials will actually back fire, failing to convince poachable Republicans and swing voters while alienating the Democratic base, a la Mark Taylor's pro-death penalty campaign.

  •  And P.S. Re Ikason (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenalley, MPociask

    It's not "surprising" that he is showing up weak in the polls.  He lost a lot of races before he was elected to the Senate.  He is not extra popular like the current governor Sonny Perude.  Isakson was more a default Senate pick when he won, basically won on name recognition since he had run so many times.  So he is vulnerable.

    •  I don't think he is vulnerable. (0+ / 0-)

      First, we have no one to run against him.  Secondly, Georgia is a red state now, where partisanship runs strongest with federal offices.  I think our best bet is the governorship.

      •  Yes, Georgia may be red (0+ / 0-)

        but the real problem is that we don't yet have a truly viable and energizing Democratic candidate. I don't feel that  Georgia is so unreversably "red".

        I'd like to put in a good word for DuBose Porter of Dublin whom I heard speak last summer with John Dean as the party was gearing up for the fall election.  He seems to be a true Democrat in the mold of Jim Martin and doesn't apologize for being a real Democrat.  

         Jim Marshall, for all his strengths (he replies personally in writing by snail mail to every inquiry I make of him), is simply not a real politician. He first ran for this House seat in a gerry-mandered district against Saxby Chambliss and was blown away by Chambliss.  On the other hand, he is a very principled and thoughtful fellow, though far too conservative for my taste and I am not a flaming lefty, just a life long committed Democrat.

  •  i wouldn't get too excited (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Barnes was a horrible governor who alientated key constituencies like the teachers unions. In some ways that would make him a stand-in for "weak Dem". He cozied up to the wingnut education commissioner and, in general, was the most conservative Dem I'd put up with in my adult life. He won his first (and only term--losing to the now unpopular Sonny Perdue) largely by having an inept scorched earth opponent schooled by Ralph Reed.

    Baker is handicapped by being Black--African-Americans can win lower profile state offices, but probably can't win the governorship. Both parties are filled with hacks, so the bench is rather shallow in terms of quality people. Oxendine should be beatable because he's been in bed with the insurance companies (with a few well publicized lapses), but the general lack of integrity among georgia pols has kept him in office.

  •  Kos, this is Georgia. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Susan Leonard

    There is no hope of knocking off Isakson (well, except the dead girl or live boy scenario).  Obama lost by 5 points here and that was with an incredible turnout of African Americans.  The runoff of Martin vs. Chambliss showed me how it really works in Georgia.  

    We have a better shot at the governorship because it is state level, and people are willing to be less partisan sometimes below federal level.  And that of course is IF Roy Barnes runs.

    Thanks for the poll, but all it shows us is that we lose in Georgia, even if it is not a landslide.

  •  Obama's numbers seem low. (0+ / 0-)

    Even Rasmussen has his approval rating at around 54% in Georgia.

    Celebrate good Obama, come on!

    by Namtrix on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 04:48:31 PM PDT

  •  HEID FOR GOVERNOR (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Athens-Clarke County will graciously donate our wonderful, beloved mayor, Heida Davidson, to the great state of Georgia, if she so desires it.  She is fairly progressive and would definitely run under the Dem ticket (although with our nonpartisan local elections, she was unaffiliated.)

    Heidi has been a tour de force in the county.  Since I moved here ten years ago, I've seen a mixed bag of a college town blossom into a bicyclists haven, with almost every major road restriped with bike lanes.  The red light district was flipped into a locally owned retail strip, with the centerpiece being a brand new police station on the site of a former gang hangout.  

    The town still has a long way to go, and we haven't agreed with her on everything (there was a kerfluffle about housing ordinances a while back that we opposed and she supported), but she's fought tooth and nail for this town, and she'd do so as a governor at a state level.

  •  Isakson's base is Atlanta suburbs (0+ / 0-)

     I imagine part of his weakness is lack of enthusiasm in South Georgia.  Alas, I fear we have no particuarly good candidate to take on Isakson or the governorship.  The teachers may forgive Barnes after experiencing 8 years of Sonny Perdue, who has continually cut education.  But the flaggers will still go after him.
      Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin would be the best candidate for gov or Senate, but I understand she is not interested.

  •  There's definitely movement afoot (0+ / 0-)

    On both sides of the Governor's race. Nathan Deal is threatening to enter the race for Governor on the Republican side, and Barnes is on the Democratic side.

    I think both would shoot to the top as to early leaders if they enter. Barnes certainly would on the Democratic side.

    But, I don't know that he (or they) would hold the lead, necessarily. I know more about the Democrats, and I think any of the three candidates who have announced (Baker, Porter, Poythress) can win if they have the organization.

    So far, Poythress has the best organization. He's been running longer, and has been traveling all over the state relentlessly for months now.

    Baker and Porter have both just started. Of the three, Porter has the longest to go, but its still very early too.

    Barnes will have to overcome a lot of suspicion from teachers to win, but after 8 years of Sonny, he might.

  •  Statewide, the problem for Democrats (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is in the North.

    If you draw a straight line across the top of Fulton county across the state, its neck-and-neck with everything to the south. The larger the turnout, the more the Democrats actually come out on top in this 70% of the state.

    Until we can do better in the north, we'll be at a disadvantage.

    And most of this has had to do with organization. The Democrats have had an increasingly aging, disfunctional organization in much of the state, but especially in the north.

    The Obama campaign has helped a great deal in that regard. There's more movement in Democratic circles in the north than there has been in years, but whether that can be translated into enough improvement in the north to win statewide by 2010 is a tough question.

  •  Here's a wrinkle (0+ / 0-)

    Eric von Hessler, a radio personality/shock jock in the Atlanta market, is mulling a run for the a Libertarian.  

  •  King Roy's a snowball in (0+ / 0-)

    hell.  Roy Barnes alienated Georgia teachers with his hamfisted education reforms, the blueprint for No Child Left Behind.  The refusal of the Georgia Association of Educators to endorse him for reelection in 2002 played a big role in his defeat that year.  

    If King Roy is ever on the ballot, this is one Georgia educator and yellow dog Democrat who will leave that race blank!

    •  I'm willing to give him a second chance (0+ / 0-)

      but he needs to be convincing. He has been working in education since he left office, as President of the National Board of Certified Teachers, so if he comes out and does some solid mea culpas for the attitude he had in the past, and even more importantly, solid plans for improving education, he could win them back.

      But its going to be tough.

      •  "working in education??" (0+ / 0-)

        If by working in education you mean assisting W. and his gang in implementing No Child Left Behind (for which King Roy's "reforms" were the blueprint), then you might have a point, but no real teacher will ever agree.  But I've seen nothing to indicate that anything about the man's arrogance has changed.  And the only mea culpa I'll accept from him will involve  the penance of staying out of elective politics for the rest of his miserable life.  

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