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Georgia gubernatorial election, 2014

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Georgia Gubernatorial Election

Primary Date:
May 20, 2014

General Election Date:
November 4, 2014

November 4 Election Winner:
Nathan Deal Republican Party
Incumbent prior to election:
Nathan Deal Republican Party
Nathan Deal.jpg

Georgia State Executive Elections
Top Ballot
Governor Lieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney General
Down Ballot
Superintendent, Insurance Commissioner, Agriculture Commissioner, Labor Commissioner, Public Service Commissioner

Current trifecta for Republicans
WhoRunsTheStates Badge.jpg
State executive offices in Georgia
Flag of Georgia.png
The Georgia gubernatorial election took place on November 4, 2014. Incumbent Nathan Deal (R) won another four-year term against Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter (D) and Libertarian Party candidate Andrew Hunt.

Georgia is one of 14 states that uses an open primary system, in which registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in that party's primary.[1][2][3]

Polling from the summer and fall indicated a close race between Deal and Carter, with the possibility that Hunt's vote share would impact the election. Learn more about trends in that polling by jumping to the polling section. Carter, the grandson of former governor and President Jimmy Carter (D), had an uphill climb given the Republican Party's recent dominance of statewide offices as detailed in the past elections section. All three candidates spoke about their economic proposals for the state of Georgia, which are available in the campaign themes section.

The competitive gubernatorial contest was the only race on the November ballot that threatened to shift the partisan balance of power in Georgia. Going into the 2014 elections, both the Georgia House of Representatives and Georgia State Senate were considered safe Republican, unlike the governor's office, which was thought to be in danger of turning blue. Deal's victory maintained the state's trifecta status.


General election

Republican Party Nathan Deal - Incumbent Green check mark transparent.png[4]
Democratic Party Jason Carter - State Senator[5]
Libertarian Party Andrew Hunt - Businessman and geologist[6]

Lost in the primary

Republican Party John Barge - State Superintendent of Schools[7][8]
Republican Party David Pennington - Mayor of Dalton[9]


General election

Governor of Georgia, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngNathan Deal Incumbent 52.7% 1,345,237
     Democratic Jason Carter 44.9% 1,144,794
     Libertarian Andrew Hunt 2.4% 60,185
Total Votes 2,550,216
Election Results via Georgia Secretary of State.

Primary election

Republican primary

Governor of Georgia, Republican Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngNathan Deal Incumbent 72.1% 430,170
David Pennington 16.7% 99,548
John Barge 11.2% 66,500
Total Votes 596,218
Election Results via Georgia Secretary of State Election Results.

Democratic primary

  • Uncontested

Race background

Republican incumbent Nathan Deal sought a second term in 2014. He easily overtook two challengers for the Republican nomination in the May 20 primary.[10]

Deal faced uncontested Democratic nominee Jason Carter, a state senator and the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter.[11] The Libertarian Party chose businessman and geologist Andrew Hunt as their gubernatorial nominee.[12]

During Deal's controversial first term, he weathered ethics investigations and intense backlash of Democrats nationwide for his support of high-profile conservative legislation, particularly regarding gun rights. An analysis of Republican governors by Nate Silver of the New York Times in April 2013 ranked Deal as the fourth most conservative governor in the country.[13]

In August, The Cook Political Report upgraded the competitiveness rating of the 2014 Georgia Gubernatorial race from "Likely Republican" to "Toss-Up."[14]

Because he was considered vulnerable, Deal was targeted for protection by the Republican Governors Association, which spent $500,000 on an ad touting the incumbent following the primary election. By mid-October, the RGA's tab for the race passed the $2.5 million mark, far eclipsing the Democratic Governors Association's $41,000 investment in Carter's campaign to retake the seat for the Democrats.[15]

Campaign themes

All three candidates for governor made public statements about their philosophies on economic policy. The following excerpts explain their economic policies verbatim from campaign websites:

Jason Carter

“Here’s the simple truth: it is getting harder and harder for middle-class people in Georgia to make it.”

Right now, there are 363,000 Georgians still looking for work. Our state ranks 50th in the nation in unemployment. One out of every four children in Georgia lives in poverty, the sixth worst poverty rate in the country.

Adjusted for inflation, the average Georgia family takes home $6,000 less than they did a decade ago. Georgia’s median income has slipped from 18th in 2002 to 33rd today. Middle-class incomes have dropped twice as fast in Georgia as it has in the rest of the country. That’s a real pay cut.

We need a strong climate for business. And you can’t have a strong economy if the middle class and small business owners are being left behind.

Promoting Small Business

We all have a stake in ensuring that communities statewide are good places to do business. Smarter tax policies and other incentives will attract businesses searching for a new home and will reassure workers and employers that we are committed to creating new jobs.

Unfortunately, under Governor Deal’s leadership, Georgia is failing to recognize the contribution of small businesses to job creation in our state.

Jason has proposed initiatives to expand benefits for small businesses, and for his work in the Senate has earned the endorsement of the National Federation for Independent Business as well as an “A” grade from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

Preparing the Workforce of Tomorrow

We must do better at educating and training Georgians for jobs that pay well and help families get ahead.

Governor Deal’s policies have resulted in 45,000 fewer Georgians attending technical colleges, with enrollment slipping from 195,000 to 150,000 in just two years. Not only is that a crisis for those students and their families, it’s an economic disaster for Georgia.

Jason has proposed measures to fix these failed reforms – for the sake of both our students and for our economy. [16]

—Jason Carter's campaign website, (2014) [17]

Nathan Deal

By cutting taxes and reducing bureaucratic red tape, he’s helped to create nearly 300,000 private-sector jobs. As a result of his fiscally conservative leadership, Georgians enjoy one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation.

Gov. Deal has overseen three balanced budgets without raising taxes, saved millions of taxpayer dollars by maintaining Georgia’s AAA bond rating, and increased our rainy day fund by more than 500%.

In his second term, Gov. Deal will work to make it easier for our state to keep the jobs we have by making it easier for Georgia companies to gain state contracts. He’ll also expand programs like the Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant and the High Demand career Initiative, which help increase enrollment at technical colleges so our state will remain on the cutting edge of labor force growth. That’s in addition to keeping taxes low, encouraging job growth, and promoting workforce development initiatives. [16]

—Nathan Deal's campaign website, (2014) [18]

Andrew Hunt

Lowered unemployment increases family stability and decreases crime. Lowered unemployment naturally increases pay as employers compete for its number one asset: the people that work at the enterprise. People naturally feel good about themselves when they have a good job that pays fairly.

Currently only large businesses and the well-connected receive special relief, incentives, and government contracts. There are so many neighborhoods, small towns and cities around Georgia full of people who do not receive any benefits. The majority of companies and people pay for this crony capitalism. With the Job Powerhouse plan we establish a level playing field with fairness and freedom of operation. Companies and citizens create the jobs that drive our economy. A truly free enterprise system without penalties on employers will grow jobs rapidly.

Eliminate Employment Penalty Taxes

We should incentivize jobs – not penalize them. Government is currently limiting our liberty and taxing jobs, and this is very wrong. Georgia employment taxes will be cut completely and federal employment taxes will be reimbursed by the state. We will also alter regulations that result in artificial incremental cost of jobs. We will make Georgia a Job Powerhouse by eliminating taxes which Georgia employers currently pay for providing jobs.

There should be no special awards to only a few companies. Deal helped create a fund with which he can direct special benefits to a small number of selected companies. This is the ultimate example of crony capitalism. Government should not direct businesses any more than it should direct churches. There needs to be as few regulations as possible so that we can have a true free enterprise system. Let the open market place, not the government, decide on the winners and losers. There will be so many more winners and more jobs by reducing the government burdens and influence.

Eliminating employment penalty taxes equally helps all employers – small, medium or large – in every location of Georgia. It also helps employees by making a tighter market place for employees, thus opening new career options – which can also be enhancement in compensation.

The Job Powerhouse program will be funded by cutting expenses and government, while receiving greater income from the expanding economy that it fosters. Expenses of having under-employed or unemployed are reduced; crimes and prisoners are fewer; and poverty and people needing financial aid are greatly reduced. With more jobs, the number of people paying taxes is increased. Without any increase in the tax rates Georgia will receive much more income in the form of sales tax due to increased commerce, and people and companies will have higher income, which will add to the tax income. By reducing state expenses and increasing its income, these employment tax structure changes can be implemented and maintain a balanced budget.

More Entrepreneurs and High Tech Industry

High-tech industry growth yields higher incomes and better schools. Attracting or starting these companies is the initial step, however, in order to create mechanisms to retain and allow prosperity of these companies will be a key to long-term growth. We must communicate to executives, employers, and key employees the great benefits of Georgia. The elimination of employment penalty taxes will help high-tech firms. Georgia needs to reduce all burdens on companies that make it hard to establish and run businesses. Entrepreneurs have a hard enough time starting up a company. We do not need artificial burdens from the government. Initiatives to provide a uniform playing field for all companies will lead to a more vibrant high-tech community and allow Georgia to retain these companies in growth industries.

Incentivize Over $11/hour Pay

Our objective is to incentivize employers to create jobs that provide competitive pay for all Georgians. To bring a higher base pay to Georgians, the employment penalty tax reimbursement of federal payroll taxes will be for jobs paying $11/hour or more, and this will be indexed to inflation. Additionally, maintaining low unemployment will drive up pay for all, as employers will compete to get the staff they need. A strong free market economy yields great jobs! Thus, elimination of employment penalty taxes will bring higher pay and ensure fewer jobs with lower pay. When the People earn more, there is a stronger economy -which in turn helps all businesses. [16]

—Andrew Hunt's campaign website, (2014) [19]


General election
All candidates - October

Governor of Georgia
Poll Nathan Deal* (R) Jason Carter (D)Andrew Hunt (L)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
New York Times/CBS/YouGov
September 20-October 1, 2014
September 29-October 1, 2014
Landmark Communications
October 10, 2014
October 13-14, 2014
October 17-20, 2014
Landmark Poll
October 20-21, 2014
October 21-22, 2014
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov
October 16-23, 2014
October 24-27, 2014
Monmouth University
October 26-28, 2014
AVERAGES 45.9% 43.65% 4.01% 6.25% +/-3.49 1,047.2
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

All candidates - through September

Governor of Georgia
Poll Nathan Deal* (R) Jason Carter (D)Andrew Hunt (L)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Survey USA/11Alive
April 24-27, 2014
InsiderAdvantage Poll
June 24-25, 2014
Public Policy Poll (D-Better Georgia)
July 11-13, 2014
Landmark (R)
July 15, 2014
Landmark (R)
July 25, 2014
August 12-13, 2014
Landmark (R) (dead link)
August 20-21, 2014
Abt SRBI Inc/Atlanta Journal-Constitution
September 8-11, 2014
Landmark (R)
September 9-11, 2014
September 10-11, 2014
SurveyUSA (Likely voters)
September 19-22, 2014
AVERAGES 42.58% 42.74% 5.6% 8.26% +/-3.51 919
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

**Incumbency is denoted by asterisk (*)

Deal vs. Carter

Governor of Georgia
Poll Nathan Deal* (R) Jason Carter (D)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Better Georgia/Public Policy Polling
October 7-8, 2013
InsiderAdvantage Poll
January 6, 2014
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Poll
January 6-9, 2014
Public Policy Polling (D-Better Georgia)
February 19-20, 2014
Insider Advantage/Fox 5 Atlanta/Morris News Service
March 9-10, 2014
Landmark Communications/Rosetta Stone
March 30, 2014
Public Policy Polling (D-MoveOn)
April 1-4, 2014
Hicks Evaluation Group
August 8-10, 2014
Rasmussen Reports
September 15-16, 2014
AVERAGES 43.67% 39.33% 16.44% +/-3.9 665.89
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

**Incumbency is denoted by asterisk (*)
Republican primary

Georgia Governor - 2014 Republican primary
Poll Nathan Deal David PenningtonUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Better Georgia Poll (dead link)
(May 7-9, 2013)
Public Policy Polling
(August 2-5, 2013)
AVERAGES 62% 14.5% 24% +/-4.3 871.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

**Incumbency is denoted by asterisk (*)

Campaign media

General election

Jason Carter

Carter for Governor: Dinner Table

Outside organizations

Coalition for Georgia's Future

Coalition for Georgia's Future: Nathan Deal Fighting for Growth in Women Owned Business
Republican Governors Association

RGA ad: Chance

RGA ad: Realize

Primary election

Nathan Deal

One - posted 11/8/13

Goal - posted 5/1/14

Move - posted 5/15/14

David Pennington

David Pennington for Governor 2014 campaign ad - Posted to YouTube Nov. 2013

Ad spending

The Wesleyan Media Project published a report on September 30, 2014, highlighting spending on gubernatorial races from September 12-25. This report found that Democratic and Republican groups spent a total of $46.84 million on TV ads in 15 states with gubernatorial elections. The following chart details the group's findings, including spending amounts and number of ads:[20]

Note: A bolded number indicates the highest total for this category. A number in italics is the lowest total for this category.

Spending on TV ads, September 12-25, 2014
State Total # of ads  % Democratic-leaning ads  % GOP-leaning ads Total spending-Democratic leaning (in millions of $) Total spending-GOP leaning (in millions of $)
Colorado 2,460 83.1 16.9 1.35 0.39
Connecticut 2,312 61.7 38.3 1.48 0.89
Florida 20,111 38.5 61.5 4.07 6.64
Georgia 4,625 51.1 48.9 1.43 0.99
Illinois 7,793 63.5 36.5 4.17 3.5
Iowa 2,134 47.5 52.5 0.25 0.38
Kansas 5,024 45.7 54.3 0.85 1.17
Maine 3,281 42.3 57.7 0.46 0.32
Michigan 6,767 33.9 66.1 1.14 2.3
Minnesota 1,974 83.9 16.1 0.65 0.29
New York 4,926 61 39 2.18 0.88
Pennsylvania 3,263 50.9 49.1 1.58 1.23
South Carolina 2,883 39.1 60.9 0.33 0.38
Texas 10,330 33.4 66.6 2.24 2.93
Wisconsin 7,374 63.3 36.7 1.36 1.01
TOTALS 85,257 48.2 51.8 23.54 23.3

Past elections


Governor of Georgia, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngNathan Deal 53% 1,365,832
     Democratic Roy E. Barnes 43% 1,107,011
     Libertarian John H. Monds 4% 103,194
     Independent Write-in 0% 124
Total Votes 2,576,161


Governor of Georgia, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngSonny Perdue Incumbent 57.9% 1,229,724
     Democratic Mark Taylor 38.2% 811,049
     Libertarian Gary Hayes 3.8% 81,412
Total Votes 2,122,185


Governor of Georgia, 2002
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngSonny Perdue 51.4% 1,041,677
     Democratic Roy Barnes 46.3% 937,062
     Libertarian Gary Hayes 2.3% 47,122
Total Votes 2,025,861

Voter turnout

Political scientist Michael McDonald's United States Elections Project studied voter turnout in the 2014 election by looking at the percentage of eligible voters who headed to the polls. McDonald used voting-eligible population (VEP), or the number of eligible voters independent of their current registration status, to calculate turnout rates in each state on November 4. He also incorporated ballots cast for the highest office in each state into his calculation. He estimated that 81,687,059 ballots were cast in the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, representing 35.9 percent of the VEP.[21] By comparison, 61.6 percent of VEP voted in the 2008 presidential election and 58.2 percent of VEP voted in the 2012 presidential election.[22]

Quick facts

  • According to PBS Newshour, voter turnout in the 2014 midterms was the lowest since the 1942 midterms, which took place during the nation's involvement in World War II.[23]
  • Forty-three states and the District of Columbia failed to surpass 50 percent turnout in McDonald's analysis.
  • The three states with the lowest turnout according to McDonald's analysis were Texas (28.3 percent), Tennessee (28.6 percent) and Indiana (28.8 percent).
  • Maine (58.5 percent), Wisconsin (56.5 percent) and Colorado (54.5 percent) were the three states with the highest turnout.
  • There were only 12 states that increased voter turnout in 2014 compared to the 2010 midterm elections.[24]
Voter turnout rates, 2014
State Total votes counted  % voter eligible population Top statewide office up for election Size of lead (Raw votes) Size of lead (%)
Alabama 1,191,274 33.2 Governor 320,319 27.2
Alaska 285,431 54.4 Governor 4,004 1.6
Arizona 1,537,671 34.1 Governor 143,951 12.5
Arkansas 852,642 40.1 Governor 118,664 14
California 7,513,972 30.8 Governor 1,065,748 17.8
Colorado 2,080,071 54.5 Governor 50,395 2.4
Connecticut 1,096,509 42.5 Governor 26,603 2.5
Delaware 234,038 34.4 Attorney General 31,155 13.6
District of Columbia 177,176 35.8 Mayor 27,934 19
Florida 6,026,802 43.3 Governor 66,127 1.1
Georgia 2,596,947 38.5 Governor 202,685 8
Hawaii 369,554 36.5 Governor 45,323 12.4
Idaho 445,307 39.6 Governor 65,852 14.9
Illinois 3,680,417 40.9 Governor 171,900 4.9
Indiana 1,387,622 28.8 Secretary of State 234,978 17.8
Iowa 1,142,284 50.2 Governor 245,548 21.8
Kansas 887,023 43.4 Governor 33,052 3.9
Kentucky 1,435,868 44 U.S. Senate 222,096 15.5
Louisiana 1,472,039 43.8 U.S. Senate 16,401 1.1
Maine 616,996 58.5 Governor 29,820 4.9
Maryland 1,733,177 41.5 Governor 88,648 6.1
Massachusetts 2,186,789 44.6 Governor 40,361 1.9
Michigan 3,188,956 43.2 Governor 129,547 4.3
Minnesota 1,992,613 50.5 Governor 109,776 5.6
Mississippi 631,858 28.9 U.S. Senate 141,234 33
Missouri 1,426,303 31.8 Auditor 684,074 53.6
Montana 373,831 47.3 U.S. Senate 65,262 17.9
Nebraska 552,115 41.5 Governor 97,678 18.7
Nevada 547,349 29 Governor 255,793 46.7
New Hampshire 495,565 48.4 Governor 24,924 5.2
New Jersey 1,955,042 32.5 N/A N/A N/A
New Mexico 512,805 35.7 Governor 73,868 14.6
New York 3,930,310 29 Governor 476,252 13.4
North Carolina 2,939,767 41.2 U.S. Senate 48,511 1.7
North Dakota 255,128 45 U.S. House At-large seat 42,214 17.1
Ohio 3,149,876 36.2 Governor 933,235 30.9
Oklahoma 824,831 29.8 Governor 122,060 14.7
Oregon 1,541,782 53.5 Governor 59,029 4.5
Pennsylvania 3,495,866 36 Governor 339,261 9.8
Rhode Island 329,212 42.2 Governor 14,346 4.5
South Carolina 1,261,611 35.2 Governor 179,089 14.6
South Dakota 282,291 44.9 Governor 124,865 45.1
Tennessee 1,374,065 28.6 Governor 642,214 47.5
Texas 4,727,208 28.3 Governor 957,973 20.4
Utah 577,973 30.2 Attorney General 173,819 35.2
Vermont 193,087 38.8 Governor 2,095 1.1
Virginia 2,194,346 36.6 U.S. Senate 16,727 0.8
Washington 2,123,901 43.1 N/A N/A N/A
West Virginia 451,498 31.2 U.S. Senate 124,667 27.6
Wisconsin 2,410,314 56.5 Governor 137,607 5.7
Wyoming 168,390 39.3 Governor 52,703 33.6

Note: Information from the United States Elections Project was last updated on December 16, 2014.

Key deadlines

Deadline Event
March 7, 2014 Filing deadline for candidates
May 20, 2014 Primary election
June 27, 2014 Filing deadline for independent candidates
July 22, 2014 Primary runoff election
September 2, 2014 Deadline to file as a write-in candidate for the general election
November 4, 2014 General election
December 31, 2014 Inauguration day for public service commissioners elected in general election
January 12, 2015 Inauguration day for all other state executives elected in general election

Recent news

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All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Georgia Governor Election News Feed

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. National Conference of State Legislatures Website, "State Primary Election Types," accessed January 6, 2014
  2. Fair Vote, "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" accessed January 6, 2014
  3. Ballotpedia research conducted December 26, 2013, through January 3, 2014, researching and analyzing various state websites and codes.
  4. Nathan Deal for Governor 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  5. Jason Carter for Governor 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed November 8, 2013
  6. Andrew Hunt for Governor 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed May 2, 2014
  7. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Your Daily Jolt: John Barge kicks off gubernatorial run today," September 3, 2013
  8. John Barge for Governor 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  9. David Pennington for Governor 2014 Official Campaign Website, "Homepage," accessed August 6, 2013
  10. Georgia Election Results, Secretary of State, "Primary Statewide Election Results," accessed May 21, 2014
  11. Jason Carter for Governor 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed November 8, 2013
  12. Andrew Hunt for Governor 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed May 2, 2014
  13. New York Times, "In State Governments, Signs of a Healthier G.O.P.," April 16, 2013
  14. NationalJournal, "In Governors' Races, Parties Are Spending Money in Surprising Places," September 2, 2014
  15. The State, "Christie urges Ga. voters to back Deal in visit," October 16, 2014
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  17. Carter for Governor, "Issues," accessed October 15, 2014
  18. Deal for Governor, "Jobs & the Economy," accessed October 15, 2014
  19. Hunt for Governor, "Job Powerhouse," accessed October 15, 2014
  20. Wesleyan Media Project, "GOP Groups Keeping Senate Contests Close," September 30, 2014
  21. United States Elections Project, "2014 November General Election Turnout Rates," November 7, 2014
  22. TIME, "Voter Turnout in Midterm Elections Hits 72-Year Low," November 10, 2014
  23. PBS, "2014 midterm election turnout lowest in 70 years," November 10, 2014
  24. U.S. News & World Report, "Midterm Turnout Down in 2014," November 5, 2014