New Polling On SoS And Insurance Commissioner

Received via email.

A new InsiderAdvantage/RosettaStone poll conducted on 2/10/2010 of 580 likely Republican Primary voters reveals large amounts of undecided voters in both the Republican Primary for Secretary of State and Insurance Commission.

Georgia Republican Primary Secretary of State

Brian Kemp – 18%
Doug McGinnite – 3%
Undecided – 79%

Georgia Republican Primary Insurance Commissioner

Tom Knox – 12%
Seth Harp – 10%
Maria Sheffield – 7%
Ralph Hudgens – 5%
Gerry Purcell – 4%
Stephen Northington – 3%
Other – 2%
Undecided – 57%

Visit to view cross tabs on these surveys. Cross tabs will be available after 5pm on Wednesday March 3rd.


  1. macho says:

    This just proves it’s way too early to be polling on a down ballot race with virtually no advertising. With all due respect to Tom Knox, he’s a relatively unknown state rep. It leaves me baffled. I want to say it’s purely random, but how can Tom be ahead of the others? Is there something more appealing about his name. If there is something more appealing about his name, then I guess it’s not random. I understand Sheffeild, because she’s a woman, just look at last two Appeals Court races for proof.

    Tom Knox and Seth Harp are the only candidates with single syllable first and last names and the only candidates in double digits. Coincidence? Who the hell knows.

    • AthensRepublican says:

      John Knox, former Mayor of Waycross ran in a few statewide races back in the late 80s and early 90s. I expect that there are some that are familiar with the Knox name, although I don’t think the two men were related. Also, I agree with Booray’s comments below, Forsyth County, Tom Knox is well known in and that helps him with name id in a statewide race.

  2. Booray says:

    Tom Knox is from Forsyth County. Been my rep a long time. One of the biggest GOP counties in the state, so makes sense he would be above the others who are from less-populous GOP areas.

    When you think about it, the whole poll makes pretty good sense – the poll results shook out based on who was from the biggest GOP areas, pretty much one after the other…

    • macho says:

      The problem is a rep represents a population 1/3 the size of a Senator’s district. Knox is exactly a stalwart within the party.

  3. Tiberius says:

    I am not sure I have seen a 2 man poll where someone polls 3%. I know there is an inbumbent in this race, but 3%?

  4. ummm-duh says:

    Hmmmm… Hard to put much faith in a poll on IC this early, but found some interesting tidbits from the poll internals (

    – Knox and Northington seem to have a near-monopoly on Democratic votes, each pulling in a third or more of Dems. Obviously this has nothing to do with the fact that they both agree w/the libs on no interstate sales of health care insurance. Oh wait…
    – Real story here is a poor, poor showing for Ralph Hudgens. Has big name ID, esp. in North GA. Also had raked in most money for end-2009 filings. His name had been touted by some political gurus as frontrunner; that mantle may be in question now.
    – Newcomer Gerry Purcell pulling in 4% with virtually no previous name ID or recognizability before this election. Outperformed in youth vote (18-29 y/o) compared to overall poll standing.
    – Sheffield’s 7% mostly likely comes from the Ox crowd to whom she is joined at the hip
    – Undecided just won without a runoff

  5. jackson says:

    Looks like McGinnittie has the momentum! He’s moved from 2% to 3%! The plan to win all the straw polls is paying off!

      • BuckheadConservative says:

        Before clicking the comments, I put the over/under at 3 post (not counting replies) before the Kempuppets would strike. You guys are slow.

  6. TidePrideGA says:

    I’m not sure that theory plays. Both Maria Sheffield and Stephen Northington are from Cobb County. Seth Harp is from Muscogee County. Ralph Hudgens is from Madison County. Surely there are more Republican voters in Cobb than in Madison or Muscogee?

  7. Booray says:

    Fair question TidePride. No disrespect to Northington, but while he is from Cobb, he has not held public office there and is therefore a non-entity in name ID. I think Sheffield is higher not because she’s from Cobb but because she’s the only woman in the race (that counts for something I would think).

    Beyond that, the candidates break down in order of who is elected from the area with the most Republican votes. Knox from Forsyth, Harp from Columbus (and I seem to recall his district once went all the way to Macon), and then Hudgens from northeast Georgia.

    • macho says:

      Since Knox is getting credit for the entire county of Forsyth, although he only represents a portion of it, shouldn’t Harp get credit for all the counties his senate district it touches?

      No disrespect to Knox, I just don’t buy it, not at this point in the campaign.

      • Gary Cooper says:

        Well in fairness, Knox has very good name recognition throughout the county. He is not only courteous and available to those he represents, but makes time to talk to citizens from other parts of Forsyth. He has been our most effective legislator and sticks to the issues at hand instead of the meat and potatoes stuff that always riles up the base. It would be a complete 180 with him as commissioner compared to what we have to deal with now.

    • withaclue says:

      Maria is a Hispanic name, therefore she gets almost 60% of the Hispanic vote (even beating out undecided). I’m looking at the cross-tabs right now. She is also the only woman on the GOP ballot.
      Chairman Hudgens has been beat up on as the perceived front-runner, despite a cash advantage. Poor showing early is not terrible news for him if he can shake it off and stay focused on his goal of being in the runoff where his money advantage plays well.
      Tom Knox is about the most conservative member on the ticket and he has been a fixture in his Congressional District. He is also endorsed by all but a few members of his caucus in the House. Yes, it’s early, but a lead is a lead, especially if it’s decent.
      Worst news in this poll is for anyone who not only does poorly, but is also way behind the pack in fundraising and not making up ground. Let’s get serious. Maybe this is a preliminary for anyone not serious about a statewide run to go for a local seat later. April 1st is right around the corner. Let’s see who makes it to qualifying once the curtain is pulled back.

  8. gopgal says:

    The Secretary of State’s office with Kemp at the helm issued 22 press releases in January (he was sworn in 1/08/10) and 28 in the month of February. By comparison, when Karen Handel was SoS, the press office issued 4 releases her first month (January ’07) and 9 releases the following month. Kemp’s strategy, to flood the free media market, combined with a previous unsuccessful statewide run for Agriculture Commissioner means he has some name recognition. But, it’s early.

    • HowardRoark says:

      So he’s ran statewide before, gets the job handed to him, and does jumping jacks for the first two months he has the office and still can’t crack 25%? There is something fundamentally wrong with Kemp.

      • Mozart says:

        Yes, Kemp is a fake who will likely win but that still doesn’t mean he is “qualified.” It just means Sonny had to step-in to bump him up to a position he wasn’t going to be able to win on his own. And, now Kemp is beholden to anything Sonny wants, including covering-up all the mess left by Handel.

        • Republican Lady says:

          What mess? Facts, just give me facts, not innunendoes, opinions, half-truths, just facts, so I can make-up my own mind.

          • Mozart says:

            Your mind is already made-up, RL. It is for Karen Handel, regardless. Or, irregardless, as the case may be.

            • Republican Lady says:

              I have a factual basis for my decision but you indicate there may be something I do not know about that could influence my decision. Again, what mess? Facts only please.

  9. MariettaLegal says:

    No winners, but looks like a definite loser = Sen Ralph Hudgens. Longest standing politician of the bunch. Been around for two decades. Well travelled. Known to evangelicals. Committee Chair of powerful Insurance Committee. And, has raised a bunch of money. 4% not good for him, really not good.

    I imagine that after Sen Harp’s recent comment about raising tuition by 77% sinks in, he will sink faster than the state’s revenue.

    Rep Knox; badly needs some energizer bunny batteries – no energy. Not working very hard. Loses his train of thought easily. Occasionally tells a good joke though.

    Too early on the others. Sheffield; tied to the Ox (email list, joint appearances, same campaign manager formerly, same style down to the Tweets). Could be good, could be bad (my bet). Northington; nice guy, zero traction even in his home county. Heard most of them speak – all boring, except for Purcell who is an exceptional speaker. He is a very reform minded too, which will help in an “ethics” year. Has the strongest resume. Wife is gorgeous and superb campaigner. He always win straw polls without any serious challenge. When he starts blasting his message out to the main voters, this Insider Advantage poll will be forgotten/irrelevant.

    Of course, someone else could still get into the race. It’s that kind of year.

    • Republican Lady says:

      Marietta Legal

      I’m curious. Do candidates with gorgeous wives typically get higher votes? Does your comment mean that candidates with average wives won’t get as many votes? What about husbands? If they are handsome, will the candidate wife score higher votes?
      Is this election based on beauty or issues and the ability of the best candidate with the best plan for the issues?

      Let me know, beauty, or issues and ability. I want to make sure I vote for the right thing. I mean if beauty is the main factor I need to focus on, can you tell me how the other spouses compare?

    • macho says:

      “When he starts blasting his message out to the main voters”

      I like Purcell, but the problem is, you need money to “blast” your message.

      • Republican Lady says:

        His post hit me wrong with the “gorgeous wife” comment, as though the only way Purcell or any guy can win is to have a gorgeous wife. I see what you are saying also.

        • TangoMikeMike says:

          Purcell’s wife really is an asset, and happens to be pretty too. I’ve seen Gerry and his wife together at events. I’ve also seen them separately at other evetns. “Gorgeous” may be an inappropriate word, but she’s working this gig as hard as he is, lot’s of times by herself. Beauty really is more than skin deep here.

          • Republican Lady says:

            I know and I like Purcell too, but Marietta Legal makes it sound like votes hinge on a spouse’s physicality rather than the candidate’s qualifications.

            The comment reminded me of Oxendine looking around the room at an event and remarking on the “hot” women present. I feel it is uncalled for and makes a serious issue seem shallow.

    • ArnoldVinick2006 says:

      Seth Harp didnt say we should raise tuition 77%, he said that if the universities didnt cut their budgets then they would have to raise tuition 77%. Those are just the numbers, he wasnt suggesting anything.

  10. Ag Smith says:

    Marietta Legal, you should think about starting a politcal consulting company. Agree with you on Hudgens. I wonder if the ethic complaint is hurting him. You can’t use Senate letterhead to raise money anymore like in the good old days.

    I am a Purcell fan from April when I heard him
    speak at the Forsyth County convention, which I have already made known. I talk to a lot of Forsyth county folks. I would not take Forsyth County for granted if I were Rep Knox. Most everybody I talked to is supporting Purcell. After qualifying, it will be more evident.

    • Gary Cooper says:

      Purcell has been very active in this area (Forsyth) that’s for sure and he did have a lot of fans here back last summer when he was making the rounds. However, when Knox announced he was running for the same post, it has made a lot of people think because Knox is very popular around here. No, he shouldn’t take it for granted and I don’t think he does. Once he is done with the legislative session you will see him out and about more often. Can’t really do any campaigning or raising money right now because of state law.

  11. Doug Deal says:

    Pretty sad when all that the sitting Secretary of State can muster is 18% support.

    There is advice that they give to incumbents that poll under 20%. Update your resume.

    • GOPGeorgia says:

      Does the average voter know who the SOS is? or has been? The “i” beside Kemps name will help him out a great deal. I’m not so sure that the press releases will. I think McGinnite needs a low turnout with his base showing up to win, or he needs to do something unexpected.

  12. MariettaLegal says:

    No disrespect to Republican Lady, but gorgeous is as gorgeous does, and a lot of “gorgeous” has to do with how one carries themselves. Having a wife with a great personality and a magnetic smile is gorgeous; just as having a rugged Todd Palin husband helps if you are Gov of Alaska. And, voters like to see candidates campaign with their spouses and feel a sense of partnership. I think that is especially a good thing in this recent season of Georgia politics. Of course, issues and plans are important and I did not mean to suggest otherwise, in the slightest sense. Listening to all the candidates, as I have, one gets a good sense of who has the ideas too.

    • AthensRepublican says:

      I was impressed with Purcell’s wife when I met her. Very outgoing and it helps to have your spouse fully supportive in your campaigns.

    • Marietta Legal,

      I agree that Julianne Purcell is a real asset. Let me attempt to somewhat assuage Republican Lady by saying that she is substantive and by no means a mere arm decoration.

      I also agree that Ralph Hudgens needs to get a move on if he wants to be the next Georgia Insurance Commissioner. He has been all but non-existent below the gnat line and I believe this part of the state is trending Republican more rapidly than is generally accepted.

      “It’s early yet” is not a good argument in a race with this many candidates. My advice to Ralph Hudgens – use it now or lose it forever. You will not be able to make up lost ground in July.

      The people I have seen regularly down this way are Gerry Purcell and Maria Sheffield. Both are more than competent and are serious about the campaign. Both demonstrate substantial knowledge about the insurance industry and are working hard.

      Purcell is an excellent speaker and his positions seem deep-seated in his political philosophy. The more people he sees face-to-face the better he will do.

      Maria Sheffield also does well in person. I’ve been very impressed with her knowledge of the business. She comes across as very earnest but any links to Oxendine will hurt her with GOP regulars. For the record, I spoke with her several weeks ago and she denied she has received any help from Oxendine whatsoever.

      As for the other candidates, it would nice to run into them somewhere.

  13. Doctor Death says:

    It’s Time Doug… to get out of the race, while you can still leave with a bit of Dignity.

  14. Southern Politico says:

    Come on now…Look at the crosstabs for Brian & Doug.
    Identifying Rep. Brian – 21% Doug – 2.3%
    Identifying Dem. Brian – 1.5% Doug – 9.3%*
    I don’t have to be very skilled statistics to know this doesn’t follow logic when compared to the rest of the results. Why would most of Doug’s support come from Dems? I don’t know if this poll passes the smell test.

  15. old political pro says:

    Wishful thinking looking for any kind of glimmer of hope for Doug.

    Booray’s analysis is correct on the Insurance race. Quite embarrassing for “the lobbyists asked me to run” Hudgens. Sheffield is interesting. She seems well positioned early.

  16. RuralDem says:

    Two things that really stuck out:

    1. The poll was conducted almost a month ago.

    2. The tabs show the following for Northington: Rep – .8 Dem – 34.6

    Kemp’s numbers are terrible for someone who just ran for a statewide seat four years ago. Which, hey, after those ads he ran, he probably wants a clean slate.

  17. Howard Roark says:

    The SOS is sewed up. McGinnie has no name recognition where Kemp rings a bell in the back of peoples mind because he was on a down ballot race.

    In the Insurance Commissioner race the determining factor will be who does the best job with direct mail and primary voter contact. That will probably be determined by who has the largest bankroll.

    • Glen Ross says:

      Again, I’ll refer to my statements after Dr. Death’s post. There’s 80% undecided in that race. Sewed up seems like a stretch.

      I agree on the insurance. Who leads in fundraising?

    • GOPGeorgia says:

      And he’s been there how long? Does the average voter know who the last 2 SOS’s were? It will become an advantage when the average voter sees an “I” beside his name.

      • gopgal says:

        GOPGeorgia –

        I wouldn’t bet on it.

        “An anti-incumbent vote is one exercised against elected officials currently in power. It allows the voters to register their discontent with sitting government officials, particularly when protesting against certain actions taken by the government [e.g., Sonny Perdue] or the elected officials in question.”

      • polisavvy says:

        Couldn’t it also be a disadvantage with so many developing an “anti-incumbent” mentality? I’ve have had a good many friends of mine indicate that if it has an “I” next to it, that they are going to the next person on the ballot. Just my two cents worth. 🙂

        • GOPGeorgia says:

          The anti incumbency will be triggered (nationwide) at the federal level. I’m not so sure it will go down to the state kevel. Many people have problems with congress, but not their U.S. house member. The re-election rate is very high, but the GOP will make gains this year.

          I think that if polled, most Georgians would say that the federal government is going in the wrong direction and the state government is going in the right direction. The state legislature is discussing where to cut spending much more than raising taxes. State wide office holders with an R beside their name running for reelection should be safe.

  18. BuckheadConservative says:

    My take aways from this:

    The insurance commish race will be the Chinese fire-drill I thought it would be.

    The SoS race is wide open.

  19. B Balz says:


    GA’s Insurance Premium Taxes (IPT) for FY 2009 collected almost $315,000.000, one of the highest in the US.

    Currently, only ONE candidate has a plan to use some of the IPT to help fund the EXISTING GA High Risk Plan:


    Fact is helping the insurance industry is not really trickling down , but rather trickling on, on people. WAKE UP!

    Pretty wives? Great, but what a bunch of nonsense!

    • ECSnob says:

      This is a regulatory position. Majority of the things either Purcell or Northington are proposing cannot be done from the Ins Commish office. The job is to regulate the industry not to create or change law.

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