By Phillip Stucky
Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who vetoed a campus carry bill in May, has seen a drastic shift in his approval ratings, a poll released Thursday shows.
Deal actually has a higher approval rating with Democrats — 56 percent — than Republicans — 35 percent, according to a Public Policy Polling poll published Thursday.
The bill, House Bill 859, would have enabled full gun rights on college campuses, a move seen by supporters as a way to combat the trend of campus violence. Republicans generally supported the bill, with 57 percent of conservatives approving, while 80 percent of Democrats said they opposed the bill. Statewide, 52 percent of Georgia voters opposed the bill. In addition to HB 859, Deal also vetoed a “religious liberty” bill, which would have granted protections to people who don’t support same-sex marriages.
The same poll revealed that another typically conservative issue, opposition to Medicaid expansion, was not as opposed as in other states like Virginia. Opposition from conservatives is only 46 percent, while 28 percent approve of Medicaid expansion.
Taking their ire even further, state Republicans didn’t invite the governor to the state convention this weekend, instead opting to hear a speech from Rick Perry, which sold out weeks in advance.
With this in mind, Public Policy Polling asked respondents who they support to be the next governor. There are two likely Republican contenders, but the lieutenant governor Casey Cagle currently has the best numbers, with name recognition at 48 percent. Despite better name recognition at 68 percent for Atlanta mayor and potential Democratic challenger Kasim Reed, Cagle still wins narrowly in a head to head match up, according to the poll.
At press time, a banner created by the group Georgia Republicans for the Future hung in front of the convention with the words, “thank you Nathan Deal.”