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Ratings Change: Georgia Governor

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia is in a competitive race for re-election against Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter. But the limited public, automated polls — some of which showed Carter with a significant lead — appear to be driving a narrative of the race that doesn’t match reality. Deal endured some negative headlines for his handling of a severe ice storm in the Atlanta area, and his state ethics commission director alleges the governor’s office pressured her to make ethics complaints against Deal’s 2010 campaign go away. Some GOP strategists also admit the governor isn’t particularly well-defined for an incumbent about to finish his first term. But that doesn’t mean Deal is on the verge of defeat. We’re changing the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race from Republican Favored to Leans Republican because the race is competitive and Republicans have some work to do to discredit Carter through a paid media campaign. But the nature of Georgia and the midterm cycle should work in the governor’s favor in the end, and we regard the buzz about Deal’s extreme vulnerability as a considerable exaggeration.