Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 4/5-4/7. Likely Voters. Margin of Error 4%. (4/29/09 poll in parentheses where applicable)
Roy Barnes (D) 45 (44)
John Oxendine (R) 42 (46)
Roy Barnes (D) 44
Nathan Deal (R) 42
Roy Barnes (D) 44 (45)
Karen Handel (R) 43 (39)
John Oxendine (R) 48 (47)
Thurbert Baker (D) 36 (42)
Nathan Deal (R) 48
Thurbert Baker (D) 35
Karen Handel (R) 49 (40)
Thurbert Baker (D) 35 (42)
Former Democratic Governor Roy Barnes has been the frontrunner in the Democratic primary since he announced his comeback bid last year, and the new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll out of the Peach State suggests that he is the only Democrat who makes the race truly competitive. State Attorney General Thurbert Baker is at least within site of the trio of Republican front-runners, but he would have a great deal of work to do to make up the 12-14 point deficit he suffers against the GOP frontrunners.
An interesting substory developing is the potentially flagging candidacy of longtime GOP frontrunner John Oxendine, who serves as the state's Insurance Commissioner. Throughout 2009 and early 2010, Oxendine had held vast leads over fellow Republicans Karen Handel (the GA Secretary of State) and former Congressman Nathan Deal. According to a GOP primary poll conducted this week by Insider Advantage, Oxendine's lead had shrunk to just eight points over Handel (26-18). While we did not poll the primary here, it is worth noting the Oxendine (albeit slightly) runs the weakest of the three Republicans against either Democrat. This is in spite of the fact that one of his GOP cohorts, Nathan Deal, is having to answer some tough questions about possible ethics issues that stemmed from his tenure in Congress.
On the US Senate side, freshman Senator Johnny Isakson is probably in solid shape to hold his seat, though his numbers do not paint a particularly dominant picture:
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) 50
Thurbert Baker (D) 34
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) 53
Michael Thurmond (D) 26
Since no first-tier Democrats have actually taken the plunge against Isakson, we tested one statewide official who is not ensconced in the gubernatorial race (Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond), and we tested the possibility of Baker seeing the writing on the wall vis-a-vis Roy Barnes and jumping races. Baker holds Isakson to 50% of the vote, which is pretty middling for a Senator who is the most popular statewide politician that we tested (54/38 spread on his favorability). That might be a sign that no one in Washington is immune right now from at least some angry stares from the voting public.
All that said, of course, merely decent numbers are still likely to be victorious ones, and it is hard to imagine a scenario where Isakson will face a top-drawer Democratic opponent. His re-elect stands at 46%, but only 23% are calling for his ouster. That means Isakson just needs to attract a small fraction of the one-third of the electorate or so that is willing to consider his opposition in order to win.
Speaking of favorability, here is an interesting side note: Barack Obama, while sporting a net negative favorability spread in the state (45/51), actually has higher favorabilities than either GOP Senator Saxby Chambliss (35/41) and outgoing GOP Governor Sonny Perdue (36/47).
In Georgia, for what it's worth, there is a definite rightward slant on the health care reform issue.
Indeed, in the Peach State, the "repeal the bill crowd" can find some fertile soil among the electorate. Georgia voters prefer the "repeal the bill" candidate to the "support the bill" candidate by a modest margin (48-41). That margin, incidentally, widens among the state's independent voters, where the spread is 45-32 in favor of candidates who would seek the bill's repeal.