By Aaron Blake - 05/25/07 03:52 PM EDT
A new poll in Georgia shows Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) could be vulnerable to a strong Democratic challenger and that his current challenger is closer than many expected him to be.
The poll, conducted by independent Atlanta-based Insider Advantage and released Friday, shows Chambliss edging former Gov. Roy Barnes (D) 42-40. Barnes has not shown interest in the race, but he was used as a baseline sample for a well-known statewide Democrat.
The poll was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday among 500 registered voters in the state.
“It doesn’t mean that Chambliss is in serious trouble,” Insider Advantage CEO Matt Towery said. “Although I think it does show that he is a candidate who will have to work to reacquaint himself with the public here. He has very weak name ID.”
The Jones camp hailed the results as proof that he can be competitive with Chambliss. The state has not been high on the Democrats’ target list, as the national party has focused more on states like Texas and Kentucky.
“I have not officially announced at this point and already you’re seeing that the race is closing in,” Jones told The Hill. “Clearly, a lot of it has to do with Saxby not being in touch with Georgians, and the prime example is the immigration issue.”
The poll did not measure anything concerning immigration. Chambliss was recently booed by members of his party while defending the Senate’s immigration bill, which includes a path to citizenship and a guest-worker program.
Jones, who is running as a conservative Democrat, criticized him for his immigration stance this week. Jones favors an enforcement-first approach.
Towery pointed out that Chambliss did not lose many Republican voters but suggested that the 17 percent of independent voters that favored Jones and the 25 percent that favored Barnes might reflect discontent with what is happening in Washington.
Barnes and Jones both garnered 67.9 percent of the black vote, while Jones, who is black, got about 10 percent less of the white vote.
Chambliss’s office did not return a call requesting comment Friday afternoon.
Some Democrats in the state have been recruiting Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.) to run against Chambliss, but Marshall has not shown much interest in the race. The poll did not include a comparison of how Marshall would fare against Chambliss.