In the crowded Georgia Republican gubernatorial primary this coming Tuesday, Karen Handel has the lead, according to a new InsiderAdvantage poll of likely primary voters for WSB-TV. Sarah Palin recently endorsed Handel. The poll has Nathan Deal, John Oxendine and Eric Johnson all closely competing for the important second-place finish, because the contest almost definitely will require an August 10 runoff. From Southern Political Report:

The results:

Karen Handel, 24%
Nathan Deal, 16%
John Oxendine, 15%
Eric Johnson, 13%
Jeff Chapman, 6%
Ray McBerry, 3%
Otis Putnam, 1%
Undecided, 22%

This poll greatly differs from a recent poll from Mason-Dixon showing John Oxendine with the lead, and it’s only somewhat similar to a Rasmussen poll that has Handel and Deal tied at 24 percent with Oxendine trailing at 20 percent.

Primaries are much harder to poll than general elections. With a crowded field of viable candidates, a deeply split electorate and a significant number of undecided voters, determining the outcome ahead of time is difficult. This election could produce several potential sets of head-to-head runoff candidates. No doubt, this will be the most exciting race to watch next Tuesday in Georgia.