A closer look at polling

The new Rasmussen poll in the Governor’s race got my interest up enough to take a look at how voters view each candidate, not just in this one poll, but going back to April of last year.

Using data provided by Rasmussen and the polling firm’s standard of taking the number of likely voters with strong opinions of a candidate (“Rasmussen considers the number of people with a strong opinion more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers”), here is a look at the “very favorable” and “very unfavorable” numbers (called favorability in the charts below because it flowed better) for the four GOP candidates that have the best shot at winning the nomination and Roy Barnes, who is the likely Democratic Party nominee.

John Oxendine (click to enlarge)

Oxendine’s has the highest name recognition out of any GOP candidate. However, that name recognition has not translated into him running away with the primary. He once polled as high as 39%, but his support has dropped off due as voters learn more about him and all his scandals. His favorability rating reflects the drop in support.

Karen Handel (click to enlarge)

As you can see, Handel is trending up as far as favorability, although polling hasn’t reflected that at this point. It’s only a matter of time before that changes. Unfortunately, time will run out if her campaign doesn’t possess a sense of urgency.

Nathan Deal (click to enlarge)

Deal has to contend with a lack of name recognition, scandals and his obsession with Obama’s birth certificate. Voters haven’t liked what they have seen at this point.

Eric Johnson (click to enlarge)

Johnson is stuck between the first and second tier of candidates. Obviously name recognition is a problem for him. Voters responded favorably to him for the first time since he has been included in polls.

Roy Barnes (click to enlarge)

Barnes’ numbers, I think, I have less to do with him than they do the overall political climate towards Democrats. He is trending down, and I don’t think he has bottomed out. A political observer recently told me that only one GOP candidate out of the crop can beat Barnes, and it wasn’t Ox.


  1. gasurvivor says:

    I’m very impressed with Handel’s numbers. Her choice to focus on her campaign coincides with her rise in numbers. Great month for her.

    Mostly, I’m relieved at Ox’s numbers. We all know it has taken far too long for him to start trending downward.

  2. polisavvy says:

    Thanks Jason for explaining this. I’m glad that Oxendine’s numbers have fallen off so dramatically. Apparently people are getting wise where he is concerned.

  3. DMZDave says:

    Karen is trending in the right direction and apparently the Ox is finding out that all those who contributed because “they were afraid not to” are beginning to recognize that he can’t hurt them if he’s not in office.

  4. True Grit says:

    A couple of items are left out here, however.

    When you add the “somewhat” favorable numbers to the “very” favorable numbers, it shakes out like this:

    Oxendine 58% Favorable
    Handel 53% Favorable
    Barnes 48% Favorable
    Deal 40% Favorable
    Johnson 36% Favorable

    This translates to a 5% edge by Ox. He still has the highest name recognition in the GOP field as well. Bottom line is that Oxendine is still the most liked candidate in the field.

    • ready2rumble says:

      Since you mentioned things that were left out. Lets take a look at the unfavorable numbers:

      Oxendine 31% Unfavorable
      Deal 27% Unfavorable
      Johnson 25% Unfavorable
      Handel 24% Unfavorable

      This translates to Ox being the least liked candidate of them all.

      Jason – Thanks for sharing the Rasmussen quote.

      • B Balz says:

        An ‘old pol hand’ was mentioned to me the only voter you can believe is the one that tells you they aren’t voting for you.

        Although another I spoke with mentioned that one cannot expect to win a campaign hoping the leader will fall.

        Good work, Jason, tick-tock, tick-tock.

    • John Konop says:

      A friend of mine who supports Ox told me this about the poll. Ox never had 40% support at anytime. He said that Ox had 20% support, so OX is up with the new poll. When I asked him, why would OX knowingly advertize bad poll numbers in the past, he had no answer.

      OX camp does have the most creative spin.

      • ready2rumble says:

        Not sure I can find it, but I remember the Ox team sending out an email about closing in on 50%. So not sure what your Oxen friend is talking about.

        Yes – the Ox camp does have creative spin.

        • Mozart says:

          I think the 40-50% poll was taken by the guy who was discovered to likely be cooking the numbers and the methodology by which to perform a poll.

  5. Glen Ross says:

    Oxendine and Barnes are the only charts that show anything significant. Trying to read into numbers for Deal, Handel, and Johnson is futile.

    Comforting to know the Oxendine implosion is full on

  6. Mike Stucka says:

    Thanks for this.

    Can I make a suggestion? Excel and OpenOffice and most other spreadsheets let you set the range of display; in this case, Barnes seems to have the highest numbers, which max out around 40 percent. So you could scale your charts universally from 0-40 percent and get a more intuitive grasp of how they compare. I think the scales are similar for the other candidates, at 0-30 percent.

  7. AlanR says:

    This is great. Thank you. I hope you have the time and energy to follow up — especially as the campaigns begin to accelerate. I would only add that the Rasmussen poll was of 500 “likely voters” with a 4.5% margin of error. This is a substantial sample by a very credible firm with an excellent record. Thanks again.

  8. Technocrat says:

    It’s been 10 years [1996 and 2000] since the LAST OX state car accident. I love it when people try to compress time.
    “Oxendine 58% Favorable
    Handel 53% Favorable
    Deal 40% Favorable”
    Only ~ 144 days until the TRUTH is known.

  9. Republican Lady says:

    Good work Karen! You are moving up and that is great for the State of Georgia. Can’t wait to case my vote for you in July and again in November.

  10. If I was a betting man I would say Handel and Deal. People don’t know Deal, but with the pile of cash he has I’m sure they’ll find out soon enough.

    If there is a runoff, me thinks it will be Handel and Deal. Karen has the edge in the runoff.

    Karen is another candidate that people just like. She’s friendly and accommodating and although a politician doesn’t come off as one. She works hard and has a tenacious campaign work ethic.

    Deal seems like a likable person and although people poke fun at the birther issue, that ain’t an issue. He looks like an gentleman elder, has a strong resume and seems quite capable. Can he campaign with the same tenacity as Handel? I don’t think so, but time will tell.

    Contrary to what we would like, most people are not as dogmatic about a person’s governmental competency as they are that they feel good. Hopefully, the combination merges and you have a winner. I like Karen.

  11. True Grit says:

    The one thing you’re forgetting about Deal though is that he’s spending money like a drunken sailor. He’s raised it, but he’ll be lucky to be able to buy the smoke off of a hot dog.

    • I would expect that he’ll be able to raise a significant amount of money. Time will tell. As things firm up I would anticipate Handel’s fundraising will be pretty spectacular as well. She’s shown to be a feisty competitor even when she lacks the funds. That’s a good, no excellent candidate.

  12. NorthGAGOP says:

    I agree with TG. If you look at Deals last disclosure, you’ll see that he brought his Washington ways to his campaign. He spent more than he raised. I hope he knows he can’t print money.

  13. ByteMe says:

    Maybe the numbers aren’t quite what they appear.

    Barnes Leads in Georgia

    To wit:

    “Barnes is up 40-39 on John Oxendine, 41-36 on Karen Handel, and 43-38 on Nathan Deal. He leads because he’s winning more of the Republican vote than Oxendine, Handel, or Deal is of the Democratic vote. That’s a pretty unusual thing for a Democrat in a time when Republicans are super unified and some conservative Democrats, particularly in the South, are leaning toward supporting the GOP this year. Barnes gets 10% of the GOP vote to Oxendine’s 8% of the Democratic vote, 10% of the GOP vote to Handel’s 7% of the Democratic vote, and 12% of the GOP vote to Deal’s 7% of the Democratic vote.”

    • GOPGeorgia says:

      The PPP survey’s margin of error is +/-4.0%. A former Gov. should have higher name id. Let’s count the votes in November. Remember, the Rasmussen poll has Barnes trending down.

      • ByteMe says:

        All correct. A few things to consider, though, before you go anointing anyone: Rasmussen polled fewer people and has a slightly higher margin of error. Both polls used robo-calls to land lines, so they both skew older and white and used assumptions about “likely voters” to offset that fact (PPP’s description even mentioned that the calls underrepresented young voters and non-white voters). Rasmussen’s “likely voter” model is known to trend more Republican right up until the end of a campaign cycle when the question “Are you going to vote tomorrow?” has a high likelihood of being answered correctly.

        • GOPGeorgia says:

          I have no clue who will win the GOP nomination for Gov. and I’m not pushing anyone. I will state that I think the GOP nominee will win in the end, but after the run off is over, the election will not be taken for granted. Many people will back the GOP nominee who were backing other candidates in the primary. The advantage of a strong primary is that it fires people up and gets them to work. They can then use those skills in the general, even if they backed a different candidate. True, some will not rally, but more will come off the bench.

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