PPP's new Georgia poll finds that with a pretty anonymous set of potential Republican candidates, Democrats might have a real shot at making the Senate race competitive next year.
PPP looked at match ups involving 5 Republicans (Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, Karen Handel, Jack Kingston and Tom Price) and 3 Democrats (John Barrow, Jason Carter, and Max Cleland). Cleland is the only person in the whole bunch who has more than 50% statewide name recognition, with 48% of voters rating him favorably to 29% with an unfavorable view.
If Cleland could be coaxed into the race he would start out with a lead over every Republican we tested him against. He's up 1 against Price, 3 against Kingston, 5 against Gingrey, and 7 against Broun and Handel.
Democratic prospects for winning the seat might not hinge on what could be an unlikely Cleland candidacy though. John Barrow trails by an average of only 4/10ths of a point against the Republicans we tested- leading Gingrey and Handel by 1, tying Broun, trailing Price by 1, and trailing Kingston by 3. Carter trails the quintet of Republicans we tested by an average of 3.8 points- he's down 2 to Broun and Gingrey, 4 to Handel, 5 to Price, and 6 to Kingston.
Obviously it's been 13 years since Democrats won a major election in Georgia, but the closeness of these early numbers suggest that if they nominate a strong candidate and Republicans end up going with someone too far to the right there's at least some chance that they could pull off an upset. In an election cycle with few opportunities for offense it's one of the better ones the Democrats have.
It's hard to say much about the Republican contest for Senate right now other than that it's a complete tossup. We tested 7 potential candidates and 6 of them all clustered between 10 and 15% in our polling- Handel and Kingston get 15%, Casey Cagle comes in at 13%, Gingrey gets 12%, Broun 11%, Price 10%, and Tom Graves 3%. The plurality goes to undecided at 20%.
At this very early stage with so many potential candidates with so little name recognition, it's hard to conclude much of anything about the Republican primary situation in Georgia. Maybe once everyone decides whether they're in or out there will be a little more clarity but for now it's just wide open.
Full results here