[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/19/art.karenhandel.handel.jpg caption ="After a key endorsement from Sarah Palin, Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel holds a lead in Georgia’s GOP primary race, according to a new poll."] (CNN) - One day before primaries in Georgia, a new poll indicates that a candidate backed last week by Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has surged to the forefront in the battle for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
According to a Mason-Dixon survey released Sunday, 29 percent of likely GOP primary voters support former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, who Palin endorsed in an internet posting last Monday.
The survey indicates 22 percent of those voters are backing former state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, 20 percent supporting former Rep. Nathan Deal, 13 percent supporting former State Sen. Eric Johnson, and 13 percent undecided. Handel's six-point advantage is within the poll's sampling error.
Handel's support is also up six points from a Mason-Dixon poll conducted just a few days earlier, when Oxendine stood at 31 percent and Handel at 23 percent support. The earlier survey was conducted just before and during Palin's endorsement of Handel a week ago. On her Facebook page, the former 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee called Handel a reformer who will "strengthen…families, businesses, state and, ultimately, our United States."
Handel is also up with a campaign commercial that mentions that she's the only female candidate in the contest.
Until the new Mason-Dixon poll, surveys stretching back to last year indicated that Oxendine was the front-runner in the race. The race has turned bitter since Palin's endorsement, with a tough new ad from the Oxendine campaign taking on Handel and the Handel and Deal campaigns accusing each other of playing the gender card.
If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff between the two top voter getters will take place on August 10. The current governor of Georgia, Republican Sonny Perdue, has served in the post since 2003 and is prevented by term limits from running for reelection this year.
"It's been clear for awhile that this would be a race to the runoff, and it looks like Palin's endorsement has helped Handel not only get to the runoff but potentially finish first on Tuesday," says Nathan Gonzales, political editor of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report. "Palin has a following with in the Republican Party and in a multi-candidate contest she can have impact."
The GOP primary winner will most likely face off against former one-term Gov. Roy Barnes. Polls suggest that Barnes is the favorite to win Tuesday's Democratic gubernatorial primary. Perdue defeated Barnes in the 2002 election, when Barnes was bidding for a second term in office.
The Mason-Dixon poll, which was commissioned by the Georgia Newspaper Partnership, was conducted July 15-16, with 400 likely Republican primary voters questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus five percentage points.
–CNN's Alex Mooney and Steve Brusk contributed to this report
–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
Good – she'll be easy for the Dem to whoop.
I will NOT vote for anyone Palin endorses. If Palin endorses that person, then it's a guarantee that that person is not fit to be a candidate or an elected official.
Next we will hear that Palin is parting the waters.
Georgia and South Carolina are like a dirty hamper,you always know what your going to get.
One thing for sure is that Palin's recommendation did make up my mind. I will NOT be voting for Karen Handel. I had considered her before as a viable candidate but not any more.
I agree with Palin on her choice for the best Repug, but I usually vote for a Dem. Does Palin know that she is choosing the most liberal of the Repugs, or is she just choosing the only woman running? Does she know anything? Anything at all?? Then again, Oxendine and Deal are crooked scumbags, and Johnson (I'd choose him if I was a right-wing nutjob) is running against Washington (Obama, Reid, and Pelosi).
I'm sure Palin knew that before she made her knowledgeable endorsement.
WOW SARAH PALIN IS SOOOOOO POWERFUL. At least she is to CNN. She's just not powerful enough to keep Levi and Bristol from tying the knot and getting their own reality show. YET. Please keep pushin her agenda for her so she becomes the nominee in 2012. That will be a hoot.
Funny how libs can't stop talking about SP. Yawn, she'll make a great energy secretary in 2012.
POLLS LIE if you really think the QUITTER ON TWITTER can make and impact on someone who was down a few days ago give me a break this is the media trying to make something out of nothing.
That edorsement should give voters good cause NOT TO VITE for this Lady.
This headline should be corrected to Palin-backed candidate... otherwise it looks like the poll was about whether Palin actually backed the candidate.
It never ceases to amaze me that people actually care what Sarah P. thinks! I for one would never vote for John McCain ever again when I consider the fact that he brought this woman to the spotlight–she is so stupid. That in itself says alot about Mr. McCain! And I am one MA Independent who would have voted for him gladly had he been the candidate instead of George W.!!
Why is so much credit is giving to this nut Sara Paln? Most of her endosements are far right wing nuts that will lose in Nov. Republicans party have allow this nuts to take the party far to the right and in Nov. she you have all most destoryed the Republicans party by supporting all this far to the right wing nuts mostly women.
Everyone with a lick of sense knows that Georgians are waking up to the truth (and lies) of BOTH parties, and the candidate who will eventually win is Democrat DuBose Porter, who with his wife Carol, will restore education to Georgia public schools and bring common sense to the business climate which is so important to bring Georgia back up after years of Republican rule.
I spent time discussing these issues with Mr. Porter after Brother Obama's adviser, Tom Houck, invited me to a meeting of top GA Democrats last winter. I may only be distantly related to the Kenans of Chapel Hill, NC, but like them, I am TOTALLY for education, as are DuBose and Carol Porter.
I most heartily endorse them!!!
See my political blog for details: scottkenan.blogspot.com
Scott D. Kenan
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (in exile)
The wise and informed voter will adopt the simple rule during the general election: Whomever Palin backs or endorses, be sure to vote for the other candidate. Simple as that!
Why is Sarah Palin allowed in the United States?? Why doesn't she go home and take care of her child?? Isn't that child neglect??? She is nothing. She is no one. She deserves no children if she doesn't want to be a mother.
Just who cares what this stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid moron has to say about anything.
PALIN you have more than worn out your welcome. GO BACK to where ever it is you silther out of and do all Americans a big favor.
Shut your big stupid mouth
Sick to death of Palin and her mouth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
She is leading because of Sarah or Sarah's campaign donation?? Why give Sarah the benefit of that much power? Can you imagine, if Sarah were to be the US President, she would rely on her PAC to tell her what to say and do, as she does now.
That's it... Push the Republicans further to the right. When it actually comes to winning the general election and being in Congress, they won't have a clue as to what really needs to get done. Should they get elected, they can't stick to the "conservative prinicples" because they need to compromise and do some trading with the less conservaitive members of Congress which would be everyone else. They become obstructionists and grind government to a halt.