Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Greg Bluestein, we hear of a PPP survey conducted for Better Georgia, a liberal group, that shows Paul Broun, Jr., opening up a big lead in the previously wide-open GOP Senate primary in the Empire State of the South. Broun has 27%, compared to Phil Gingrey at 14%, Jack Kingston at 13%, David Perdue at 12% and Karen Handel at 9%. I don’t know which result is more surprising, the sudden Broun lead or the poor performance of Handel, who has recently run statewide and has a pretty good electability argument.
The same poll shows Broun running even with Democrat Michelle Nunn, who in turn runs slightly ahead of the other GOP candidates. But given Nunn’s strategy of picking off ideologically moderate voters who often pull the GOP lever, it’s wild man Broun who is likely to be the most galvanizing nominee. But even before you get to that possibility, any low-turnout runoff campaign (which will last for two long months) with Broun in it is likely to be an ideological slugfest that leaves wounds and a general impression that Georgia Republicans have become unhinged or deeply divided.
Assuming this new survey isn’t totally inaccurate, it will be interesting to see if the other candidates (particularly the deep-pocketed Kingston and Perdue; Broun himself has struggled to raise money) begin going after Broun with negative ads, and if so, if they dare call him an extremist. Up until now, the whole field has pretty much focused on claiming the Most Conservative mantle. If they keep on keeping on with that tack, then Broun’s ideology, if not his candidacy, will be the sure winner, at least until November.