We delve deeper into the poll, looking at what polled Georgians think are the most important issues facing politicians.
About the poll
This poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. of Washington D.C. from Sept. 13 through Sept. 15, 2010. A total of 625 registered Georgia voters were interviewed statewide by telephone. All stated they were likely to vote in the November general election.
Those interviewed were selected by the random variation of the last four digits of telephone numbers. A cross-section of exchanges was utilized in order to ensure an accurate reflection of the state. Quotas were assigned to reflect voter turnout by county.
The margin for error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than plus or minus 4 percentage points. This means that the “true” figure would fall within that range if the entire population were sampled.
The margin for error is higher for any subgroup, such as regional or gender grouping.
The poll was commissioned by the Georgia Newspaper Partnership.
About the Georgia Newspaper Partnership
The Times has joined with 13 other daily newspapers to provide comprehensive coverage of the gubernatorial and congressional campaigns. The partner newspapers have jointly commissioned this poll.
When it comes to the lieutenant governor's race, it's no surprise incumbent Republican Casey Cagle rises to the top.
In a poll commissioned by the Georgia Newspaper Partnership, Cagle took 47 percent, almost 20 percentage points ahead of Democrat Carol Porter, who pulled in 28 percent. Libertarian Dan Barber carved out 5 percent. But a striking 20 percent of voters polled are still undecided.
The poll was conducted this week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research and surveyed 625 Georgians likely to vote in
November's general election.
Political experts pointed to a lack of campaigning in the
"I haven't seen a single advertisement or sign for Porter or heard her on the radio," said Heather Casey, associate professor of political science at Brenau University. "This race isn't getting any coverage because everyone is interested in the governor's race. The incumbent is going to win if we're not hearing anything bad."
Many of those polled may not recognize Porter, said Charles Bullock, University of Georgia political science professor.
"She's just an unknown quantity. They have no idea who she is," he said. "She desperately needs to get money to get on television. ... If you're not on television, a lot of people have no idea who you are."
Some of the confusion may stem from the position itself, said Ross Alexander, political science professor at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega.
"Most people don't understand what the lieutenant governor does, so the incumbency advantage would seem to be stronger for that race," he said. "You would think, ‘I haven't heard anything bad about the lieutenant governor, I'll go ahead and vote for the incumbent.'"
Party loyalties also play a role when the race isn't highly publicized.
"The further you move down the ballot, the more you're motivated by party," Alexander said. "These down ballot races, you may not even be sure who these people are or what their duties are."
With the large gap in numbers, Porter is "fighting an uphill battle," said Douglas Young, political science professor at Gainesville State College in Oakwood.
"It would have been so much fun if her husband DuBose had won the gubernatorial primary. They would have gotten international attention with that combination," he said.
"But Cagle has been a popular lieutenant governor and not associated with controversy. He is far better known than she is, and there are going to have to be unforeseen dynamics for her to have realistic chances, such as a scandal or health setback."
But with 20 percent still undecided about the race, according to the poll, there's still a chance.
"It really depends on the issues now," Casey said. "When the race is quiet, voters have to listen to what they're talking about. That's when the candidates will have more opportunities to pull people toward them."
Hardy Bagley, a resident of Hiawassee, is one of the group who hasn't decided who to vote for yet.
"I'll have to hear a little bit more," he said. "But I'm pretty sure it'll be the Republican."
Bagley said he likes to look at the candidates and issues, though he votes Republican "most of the time, but not every time."