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Pro-Defense Kingston's Foe Claims To Pull Ahead in Georgia GOP Senate Runoff

Jul. 3, 2014 - 11:18AM   |  
By JOHN T. BENNETT   |   Comments
Rep. Jack Kingston and David Purdue are in a tight race in the Ga. GOP runoff for outgoing Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
Rep. Jack Kingston and David Purdue are in a tight race in the Ga. GOP runoff for outgoing Sen. Saxby Chambliss. ()
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WASHINGTON — The opponent to US House Appropriations Defense subcommittee member Rep. Jack Kingston in a tight Senate GOP runoff is claiming a slim lead, but one expert questions the survey.

In early June, Kingston’s campaign released an internal poll showing him leading David Purdue by double digits in their race to replace retiring Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman and Armed Services Committee member Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.

That Kingston campaign poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, showed 49 percent of those surveyed supported the House member, with 35 percent supporting Purdue and 16 percent undecided.

Less than one month later, Purdue’s campaign is touting its own poll — and it tells a very different story.

The Purdue poll, conducted by WPA Research, puts Purdue up 45 percent to 44 percent over Kingston.

Kiplinger’s David Morris says the Purdue campaign’s poll “at face value ... shows what we already know — that the race is tight.

“At 45-44, there are 11 percent that are undecided or won’t vote for either candidate, so it’s anybody’s race,” Morris told CongressWatch. “And, of course, there’s the margin of error to contend with.”

A Kingston win in the primary would provide some hope for the US defense sector. He would move on to face Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga.

Kingston is a defense-sector ally. Campaign contribution data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics shows the defense electronics sector ranked 16th among all industries that have donated to his campaign coffers. General Dynamics ranks third among all individual companies that have donated to his campaign ($23,450), according to the center.

In a blast email, a senior Purdue campaign official called WPA Research’s work “more accurate than any other national pollster in the 2012 cycle.”

Morris warned against viewing any campaign’s internal polling as gospel.

“I’m wary of all campaign polls. Too easy to manipulate results with question order, question wording, sample selection, etc.,” Morris said. “And they almost never release the internals to allow us to make judgments about the soundness of what they did. I’m also suspicious of claims that one pollster was the most accurate.

“To me, the final polls are the only ones that you can characterize. [With] earlier polls, who’s to say what result is “closest” because the polls aren’t measuring the outcome at the point, they’re gauging what would happen if the election were held today,” Morris said. “And there’s no final vote on that day to compare with.”

Email: jbennett@defensenews.com.

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