In pre-NRA flap poll, Cagle and Abrams build sizable leads

A poll released Friday shows Republican Casey Cagle with a formidable advantage in the GOP race for governor and Democrat Stacey Abrams with a double-digit lead in her contest. But the findings of the survey, conducted last week, don't reflect fallout from the state's fracas with Delta Air Lines.

The Mason-Dixon poll shows Cagle atop the GOP field with the support of 27 percent of likely primary voters and a dead heat for second-place between Secretary of State Brian Kemp (13 percent), businessman Clay Tippins (12 percent) and former state Sen. Hunter Hill (11 percent).

Trailing behind was state Sen. Michael Williams with 5 percent and Marc Alan Urbach with 1 percent. About one-third of Republicans said they still hadn’t made up their minds.

But the poll was conducted between Feb. 20-23 – before the Georgia Legislature's rejection of a Delta tax break became national news.

All five GOP contenders condemned Delta after it severed business ties with the National Rifle Association and Cagle, who as lieutenant governor presides over the Senate, orchestrated a legislative push to strip a lucrative tax break for the airline from a broader measure.

The two Democratic contenders have transformed that Delta feud into a campaign tool of their own, railing against what they say is a brazen insult to the state's largest private employer.

The Mason-Dixon poll of likely Democratic primary voters shows Abrams leading former state Rep. Stacey Evans by a 29-17 margin with more than half of the Democratic voters – 54 percent – still undecided. About half of the electorate doesn’t recognize either candidate, who both have not yet aired any TV ads.

Cagle has been the presumptive front-runner in the GOP contest since he announced his run last year, and his race was long expected to head to a July runoff.

But his campaign seemed to angle for the knockout blow - a majority vote in the May primary - even before the NRA-Delta feud put him in the national spotlight. Cagle shelled out $4.4 million for six weeks of ads last month, and an outside group backing him added another $1.2 million.

In the general election contest, the poll showed Cagle with leads over both Evans and Abrams, who was once the top Democrat in the Georgia House. The margins are closer in potential matchups between most of the other candidates.

For Cagle, the numbers are a slip from previous polls. A Landmark/RosettaStone poll released in October showed Cagle with about 35 percent of support. An internal poll conducted for Cagle's campaign released the same month had him at 41 percent.

ExploreYou can find all the details, including the methodology, right here.