In the DK Elections Live Digest thread, there was a comment that there was a poll done for the potential Democratic primary field. The polling outfit the Hicks Evaluation Group(H.E.G) surveyed 1,411 Democratic voters(warning: contains pdf) who voted in at least 2 of the following 4 Democratic elections: 2012 Presidential primary, 2012 primary, 2010 primary and 2010 primary runoff. The margin of error was 2.6%, and 45% was weighed to be within ten counties(Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas,
Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale) while 55% were everywhere else. The respondents were 63% female and 37% male. 76.3% identified themselves as "strong Democrat".
The poll found that the plurality of respondents were undecided(21.5%), and the three top named potential candidates(there was a total of 7) were GA-02 Congressman Sanford Bishop(16.3%), former Georgia Attorney General and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Thurbert Baker(15.4%) and former Georgia Secretary of State and 2006 gubernatorial candidate Cathy Cox(15%). Of note, 2010 Democratic primary runnerup and former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones only got 5.7% and lost out to the "someone else" category(8.8%) so the one solid thing I take from this poll is that Democratic voters reject Jones as a candidate.
Below the orange squiggle, I'll take a brief look at the top 3 named in the poll.
Congressman Sanford Bishop is an African-American Blue Dog Democrat who represents a South Georgia district(it includes most of Columbus and Macon). He was first elected to Congress in 1992 and will be 68 in 2014. Bishop has a history of winning close elections when his district was made majority white(the 2010 redistricting made his district majority minority) including winning a 51%-49% squeaker in 2010. Bishop certainly has done some Blue Doggish things like co-sponsoring a school prayer bill in 1997. He voted for the Iraq War in 2002. Bishop has a mixed record on LGBT issues: he voted for ENDA, but he also voted yes to a Constitutional Amendment against marriage equality and yes to banning gay adoptions in Washington DC. Bishop also had a scholarship controversy in 2010, which got him a dishonorable mention on CREW's 2011 list. However, Bishop is capable of delivering some needed voters like his yes vote on ACES(aka Waxman-Markey) and on Obamacare despite his anti-choice beliefs. Bishop also voted for the 1994 Assault Weapons ban so he has the capability to take on the NRA(which has given him high scores in recent years). Thusly, he could be an acceptable candidate to me if he runs. He'd function like a McCaskill or a Hagan by providing the votes when needed.
Thurbert Baker, an African-American, served as Georgia Attorney General from 1997 until 2011. He would be 62 in 2014. In 2006, he got votes and a higher percentage than any other Democrat running statewide. Baker seems like almost any other Democratic former Attorney General: has one case that a vocal minority hates him for, generally inoffensive to voters. I can't find a position on choice with him. Baker did take a courageous stand against Georgia Republicans who pressured him to sue the Obama administration over Obamacare and he said "hell no" to that. Baker seems to have the endorsement of the gun rights crowd. Baker enjoyed an A+ rating from the NRA as Georgia Attorney General (warning: very RKBA Democrat perspective in the link). Given Baker's proven statewide appeal, he would make for a strong candidate even though he'd likely legislate as a conservative Democrat. But he would certainly be better than John Barrow. I could see Baker winning against Paul Broun, and I think he could at least make it close against Karen Handel, who could flameout due to her extreme anti-choice views.
Cathy Cox(not to be confused with a Georgia Republican named Kathy Cox) was Georgia Secretary of State from 1999 until 2007. When Cox ran in the Democratic primary in 2006, she was attacked for being pro-choice. Given that choice was a key part of the 2012 election, and that women will likely make a huge difference in the 2014 midterms, Cox's views could be an asset against Handel or against Broun. Cox's history on LGBT issues could cost her now though. In 2006, she pandered to the homophobes and "supported" a ban on marriage equality. So Georgia progressives may not want to support her. I'd have to wait and see if Cox sounds more like a moderate Democrat or the kind of Democrat that John Barrow is.
Personally, I would like to see more polling that includes other potential candidates but I guess we may have to wait for somebody on the Democratic side to declare themselves running. I am opposed to John Barrow because it would stupidly give up a Democratic House seat and Barrow is untested statewise, and he just has a douchey voting record.