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State poll has Senate race all tied up
McCain leads Obama by 3 points in recent survey
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General Election voters guide 

Georgia voters poll
Poll results published by Insider Advantage based on a survey done Thursday of 531 likely voters. The poll has a maximum sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. For more information, visit the Insider Advantage Web site.

President

  • John McCain: 49 percent
  • Barack Obama: 46 percent
  • Other: 2 percent
  • Undecided: 3 percent

U.S. Senate

  • Saxby Chambliss: 45 percent
  • Jim Martin: 45 percent
  • Other: 2 percent
  • Undecided: 8 percent

A new poll shows John McCain's lead over Barack Obama is down to 3 percentage points in the presidential race among Georgia voters, with the state's U.S. Senate race in a dead heat.

As little as a month ago, Republicans had commanding leads in both races. But those leads have dwindled in recent weeks. Charles Bullock, the Richard Russell professor of political science at the University of Georgia, said the shift in the polls can be attributed to three factors: the bailout bill, massive numbers of new voters and dissatisfaction with government and incumbents.

The poll by Insider Advantage has Republican nominee McCain at 49 percent and Democrat Obama at 46 percent. The poll had 3 percent of voters undecided, with 2 percent selecting "other." Libertarian Bob Barr is the only other candidate on the state ballot for president.

In the Senate race, incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss and Democratic challenger Jim Martin are tied at 45 percent each, according to the poll. Another 2 percent chose "other," with Libertarian Allen Buckley also on the ballot. Eight percent remain undecided.

"We really have a Senate race on our hands now where a few weeks ago it appeared Chambliss was coasting to an easy re-election," Bullock said.

Both McCain and Chambliss voted in favor of the $700 bailout of struggling financial institutions, and Bullock said the candidates' corresponding drop in the polls could be backlash from that vote.

"Voters are worried about (the) economy and their own futures ... and some voters may be concluding that the incumbents don't seem to know how to resolve the problem," Bullock said.

And, the state polls are reflecting not so much an increase in Democratic support as lagging Republican support, Bullock contends.

"There's another interesting element here, too," Bullock said. "When you look at these polls, whether at the presidential level in Georgia or the Senate level in Georgia, Democratic (support) is staying the same; the Republican numbers have been dropping."

Bullock said Martin's poll numbers also are being helped by the lack of campaign ads from Chambliss, adding that he is surprised the incumbent has waited so long to run any ads.

"I would have thought that Chambliss would have started running ads as soon as Martin did," he said. He expects Chambliss soon will start running his own campaign ads.

Abb Hayes, chairman of the Hall County Democratic party, said he was "pleased, but not surprised" to learn of the poll.

"I expect that gap will continue to narrow as we get closer to the election," Hayes said. "We look forward to turning the state blue for Martin and Obama."

Hayes cautioned that multiple polls should be considered, not just Insider Advantage. Bullock said several polls across the state have been showing that both the Senate race and the presidential race have gotten closer in Georgia.

The trend in Georgia also reflects a trend in polls across the country, with many showing Obama widening his lead in states where he already was leading and shifting some so-called battleground states into his favor.

Paul Stanley, chairman of the Hall County Republican party, said he doesn't feel the polls would end up reflecting the Election Day results.

"I think we'll find in Georgia that Georgians tend to be conservative and regardless of what the polls show, they will search their conscience and vote for the most conservative candidates and that would be Sens. Chambliss and McCain," Stanley said, adding that he expects Hall County overwhelmingly will vote Republican.

"We're not concerned about polls because the only poll that counts is the one on Nov. 4."

The Insider Advantage poll of 531 likely voters was conducted Thursday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The principals at Insider Advantage include Matt Towery, a former Republican member of the General Assembly, and Pierre Howard, former Democratic lieutenant governor of Georgia.

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