This was a bad week for Nathan Deal. On that, I think we can all agree.
It was a bad week personally; no one wants to have their personal financial troubles aired publicly — although that kind of thing happens when you run for an office like governor.
It was also a bad week politically; having your personal financial troubles aired publicly can’t help — no matter how you try to spin it as a chance to relate to other Georgians who have fallen on hard times.
A week that began with a suspect Survey USA opinion poll showing the Republican candidate holding an 11-point advantage over Democrat Roy Barnes ended with a pair of polls showing something different entirely: Either a true dead heat, according to this Insider Advantage poll for Channel 2 Action News, or a statistical tie, according to a poll released this morning by the AJC and other Georgia newspapers.
The conventional wisdom in this race has been that it is Deal’s to lose, that he’d be hard-pressed not to win amid the Republican surge coming in November courtesy of the tea party.
This week, I think, that belief went out the window.
I still think Deal is the betting man’s choice. But he has to make sure that the stories of his personal debts and failure to disclose business loans are the final installments in a series that began with his questionable interventions to maintain a state program that benefited his own company.
Deal has an explanation, of varying degrees of satisfaction, for each of these stories:
Yet, it is the accumulation of these stories that stands to hurt Deal’s electoral chances. Voters who might not have been put off by any one of them may well be dismayed by the sum of them.
With that in mind, Deal would be wise to come forward with anything else that’s lurking. If he says this is it, and nothing more comes out, it will for voters to decide for themselves whether they believe him.
If he says this is it, and more does come out, this thing could really start to snowball. And then it will be even harder for him to change the election conversation to one that suits him better.