Independence Day Weekend GOP BBQ Straw Poll Results

It’s Independence Day.  Most folks spend the weekend enjoying fireworks, maybe a few cold adult beverages, and barbecue.  A lot of that barbecue was enjoyed by various Republican GOP events around the state…and no GOP barbecue is complete without a straw poll!  Two county GOPs held events during the Independence holiday along with straw polls to gauge the feeling of die-hard Republican voters on candidates for the upcoming 2018 Republican primary.

The Forsyth County Republican Party hosted their annual Grill-‘n-Chill yesterday and conducted a straw poll of the announced candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Secretary of State.  Here are the results (thank you to Forsyth GOP Chairman Justin Hawkins for sending me the picture of the results):


  • Casey Cagle: 64
  • Hunter Hill: 21
  • Brian Kemp: 22
  • Michael Williams: 24

Lieutenant Governor:

  • Geoff Duncan: 46
  • Rick Jeffares: 6
  • David Shafer: 70

Secretary of State:

  • David Belle Isle: 24
  • Buzz Brockway: 53
  • Brad Raffensperger: 31

I’ll make mention that two of the candidates, Senator Michael Williams who is running for governor and Representative Geoff Duncan who is running for lieutenant governor, call Forsyth County home.  Straw polls can be skewed since folks who show up can cast a ballot, but it’s interesting that both Senator Williams and Representative Duncan didn’t win the straw poll in their home county.  Word from my colleague Will Kremer is that Duncan was, like many people, on vacation during the holiday weekend and Senator David Shafer, from neighboring Gwinnett County, had a lot of volunteers in attendance.  There will be many polls, both scientific and straw, conducted between now and the 2018 GOP primary, so your mileage may vary.

The Cobb County Republican Party hosted an Independence Day get together today and also conducted a straw poll.  Here are the results from that (H/T to Tim Stultz who posted the results on Facebook):


  • Casey Cagle: 37
  • Hunter Hill: 103
  • Brian Kemp: 84
  • Michael Williams: 30
  • Barry Loudermilk (write-in): 1

Lieutenant Governor:

  • Geoff Duncan: 64
  • Rick Jeffares: 23
  • David Shafer: 138
  • Steve Good (write-in): 1

Secretary of State:

  • David Belle Isle: 24
  • Buzz Brockway: 96
  • Rick Knox: 20
  • Brad Raffensperger: 61
  • Phoebe Hobbs (write-in): 1
  • Josh McKoon (write-in): 18
  • Sam Teasley (write-in): 1

Cobb is certainly a focus of Republican candidates with Hillary Clinton picking up the reliably Republican county last November. Cobb redeemed itself a little bit by delivering a strong Republican turnout for #GA6 and giving us Congresswoman Karen Handel (R-GA-06). You can guarantee that Republican activists and candidates aren’t going to take Cobb for granted and will work hard to get out the Republican vote. 

Not surprisingly, Senator Hunter Hill carried his own county’s straw poll. He looks like he can be competitive against both Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, who recently gained a lot of support from elected officials in northwest Georgia, and Secretary of State Brian Kemp who seems to be trying to take a play from President Donald Trump’s playbook with his “Georgia First” campaign. Kemp’s traction must grind the gears of Senator Michael Williams who has seemingly branded himself as the one true Trump Republican in the race. That message doesn’t seem to gaining much traction in these two metro counties as much as it seems like it would in the counties outside of the metro area where Trump won by a wide margin last November. 

It goes without saying that the governor’s race will get the most focus, open seats in the lieutenant governor and Secretary of State offices will get some air time. Although Represenative Geoff Duncan’s absence from the Forsyth County picnic might account for his poor showing in that county’s straw poll, Senator David Shafer beat him by an even larger margin in Cobb where both men addressed the crowd in back-to-back speeches. Shafer also received the largest number of votes of any candidate for statewide office, above and below him on the ballot. The Senator remains quite popular with grassroots Republicans, and his straw poll numbers seem to reflect that on-going popularity.

The race for Secretary of State will probably get more light than it has in the past. That’s understandable with recent questions about the security of Georgia’s election systems as well as data breaches that occurred in 2015. Representative Buzz Brockway is leading the crowded field on the Republican side with his colleague, Representative Brad Raffensperger, in a fairly close second. This will be an interesting race to keep an eye on. Especially since the Secretary of State’s is responsible for more than just elections. 

There may have been other counties who conducted straw polls at 4th of July events over the weekend that I missed.  Feel free to post those results and your readings of the straw poll tea leaves in the comments below. 

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