Georgians have a dim view on the broader direction of the nation and President Donald Trump’s first year in the White House. But when it comes to state politics, voters have a much rosier outlook.
An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll shows a majority of registered voters – 53 percent – give Republican Gov. Nathan Deal favorable reviews in his final year in office. That includes more than one-third of Democrats and nearly half of independents.
Nearly two-thirds of voters are satisfied with the direction of the state, including one in 10 voters who say they are “very satisfied” with Georgia’s track record. Compare that to overall views of the nation’s direction: Only about 40 percent of voters say they’re satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S.
And nearly half of Georgia voters approve of the way the state Legislature is handling its job, though a majority of voters supports initiatives legislators have not yet adopted: About three in four back the expansion of Medicaid, and the poll shows widespread support for legalizing marijuana and providing dedicated state funding to expand mass transit.
The state-federal divide largely mirrors the AJC poll in January 2017, which found a slim majority of voters gave Deal favorable reviews and that half the electorate had a positive rating for the Legislature. That poll also found that roughly two-thirds of voters were satisfied with the direction of the state.
Deal’s strong numbers seem likely to help shape the race to replace him. Five credible Republicans and two top Democrats are in the contest, and most avoid taking direct shots at the governor, instead choosing to swipe at policy decisions or broader critiques of Georgia government.
A deeper dive into the figures tells the tale: About six in 10 white voters give him positive reviews, along with roughly 40 percent of black Georgians – a largely Democratic bloc of voters. His support is strongest in solidly-conservative north Georgia, where he’s long resided, but he also nears 50 percent in metro Atlanta.
The governor is hoping to capitalize on his standing in his final year in office. He recently urged candidates vying to succeed him to “choose your words carefully, because they will follow you into office.”
“To those trying to use our record for their gain, and to those insinuating that our economic potential is not as great as it is, if you begin firing shots, just remember that we have the ammunition,” he added. “We have the facts, we have the truth, and we aren’t afraid to use them.”
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