Poll: Delta stance lifts Cagle in GOP race

The Republican’s numbers got a boost after the NRA feud




A poll conducted by an issues advocacy group supporting Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle suggests his vow to "kill" a tax break benefiting Delta Air Lines has already given his bid for governor a lift.

The poll of likely GOP voters showed he jumped from 31 percent of support in February to 38 percent in March, after he effectively blocked an airline jet fuel tax exemption because Delta cut marketing ties with the National Rifle Association. His favorability ratings grew by about the same margin.

A solid majority of poll respondents – 57 percent – agreed with Cagle’s threat to punish Delta unless it repaired its partnership with the NRA. And 50 percent agreed with the GOP vote that refused Delta and other airlines the $50 million tax break because of the feud.

The poll was conducted by Meeting Street Research on behalf of Citizens for Georgia’s Future, an issue advocacy group that’s spending $1.2 million on pro-Cagle ads. The poll was conducted between March 1-4, after the Delta-NRA feud erupted, and the margin of error was about 4 percentage points.

Internal polls are meant to be taken with a grain of salt, and this one is no different. But in the absence of media polling, the results could offer a glimpse of the mood of the GOP electorate. Check out the crosstabs here to delve deeper if you want.

The poll highlighted the soft power of the NRA among Republican voters, with 81 percent giving the gun group a favorable rating compared to 59 percent with a positive view of Delta. A slim majority opposed giving Delta a tax break and most – 60 percent – said companies should “not take a stand” on gun debates.

Like other recent polls, this one showed an unsettled race for second place. Secretary of State Brian Kemp and former state Sen. Hunter Hill hovered at 10 percent, while executive Clay Tippins and state Sen. Michael Williams were in the single digits. Roughly a third of voters are undecided.

Cagle has led in most polls, though his margin has varied.

A Mason-Dixon poll released last week that was conducted before the NRA flap showed Cagle at 27 percent and a dead heat for second-place between Kemp, Tippins and Hill. A Landmark/RosettaStone poll released in October showed Cagle at 35 percent, and an internal poll conducted for Cagle's campaign released the same month had him at 41 percent.

More recent AJC coverage of the Delta fallout: