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Photo of Paul Broun (R) seated
Everyone loves Paul Broun
Crazy-man Paul Broun—the "evolution is lies from the pit of hell" guy—is the man Democrats would very, very badly like to see win the Republican nomination for Georgia's open seat Senate race. And whaddya know, a new Public Policy Polling poll for progressive group Better Georgia shows him leading the pack, in a big jump from last August (shown in parentheses):
Rep. Paul Broun: 27 (19)
Rep. Phil Gingrey: 14 (25)
Rep. Jack Kingston: 13 (15)
Businessman David Perdue: 12 (5)
Former SoS Karen Handel: 9 (13)
Activist Derrick Grayson: 3 (3)
Undecided: 23 (20)
This is actually the first survey to show Broun with a meaningful lead, though it's not entirely clear how he's gotten there (if this poll is accurate). The primary is not until May 20, and candidates have only recently begun advertising statewide—and Broun hasn't yet been among them. It's easy to imagine that Broun, as the most extreme true believer in the GOP field, has an appeal his opponents lack, but he's fared poorly on the fundraising front and won't have an easy time maintaining his advantage once the campaign kicks into high gear.

Still, in a race with five legitimate candidates, tea party enthusiasm may be enough to power Broun to a spot in the July 22 runoff, which would be held if no candidate reaches 50 percent in the first round of voting. And in the world of Republican politics, crazy can often beat money.

Interestingly, though, Broun actually fares best against the lone Democrat in the race, non-profit founder Michelle Nunn. Head below the fold to see what the general election looks like.

Here's how Nunn performs against each Republican, though Better Georgia for some reason did not include Perdue. Again, August's trendlines are in parentheses:

• 38-38 vs. Rep. Paul Broun (41-36)

• 42-40 vs. Rep. Phil Gingrey (41-41)

• 43-39 vs. ex-SoS Karen Handel (40-38)

• 44-41 vs. Rep. Jack Kingston (40-38)

All the movement is very small, as you can see. Even Nunn's 5-point net drop against Broun just isn't meaningful when the race still has barely begun and the proportion of undecided voters is so high. It's those undecideds, though, that are troublesome for Nunn: They went for Mitt Romney by a 48-33 margin in 2012, even though Romney only won Georgia as a whole by 8 points.

Convincing enough of these voters to pull the lever for a Democrat this year will be a top priority for Nunn, which is why the prospect of Republicans nominating Broun looms so large. He's radioactive enough that some Romney voters simply won't want to support him, and Nunn will need that kind of crossover support to have a chance. And if this new poll is anything to go by, she may get her shot.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 10:06 AM PDT.

Also republished by Kos Georgia and Daily Kos.

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