Sen. Raphael Warnock is in a close race with Republican challenger Herschel Walker, while Democrat Stacey Abrams is trailing Gov. Brian Kemp, according to a new poll conducted by the University of Georgia for the Georgia News Collaborative, a partnership between Atlanta Journal-Constitution, flag pole and other media outlets.
Poll respondents preferred Kemp over Abrams by 10 points, 51% to 41%, similar to the eight-point lead Kemp held in a previous AJC survey.
Warnock appeared to be opening a small lead on Walker even before news broke that the former football star had an affair and paid for the woman’s abortion. The challenger led the incumbent 46-44 in September AJC poll, but in the most recent poll, Warnock led 46–43. Both results were within the polls’ margin of error, indicating a near tie. With Libertarian Chase Oliver polls at 4% and 6% undecided, the Senate race could head for a runoff in December.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and, to a lesser extent, Kemp are both helped by cross-voting, said pollster Trey Hood, director of the Survey Research Institute at the UGA School of Public and International Affairs. “There’s a certain subset of people who just don’t vote a direct party ticket,” he said.
One of them is Donald Baker, a Glynn County resident who runs a heating and air business. Due to his dislike of Donald Trump, the former Republican has said he plans to vote Democratic except for Kemp and Raffensperger.
“Kemp did his job. Even though he was under pressure from Trump, he did his job. He did what was right,” Baker said. “Technically, I think Trump should have been court-martialed. It’s not over yet, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be.
Part of the gap between Warnock and Abrams can be explained by relatively low support for Abrams among black voters, traditionally the strongest Democratic constituency. Warnock had 89% support among black respondents, while Abrams had just 80%. However, Hood said he expects about 90% of black voters to eventually rally around Abrams.
Dyann Allen-Jordan, a black resident of Athens, said she was voting for Warnock but was undecided in the race for governor. “He seems like a great person,” she said of Warnock. “He’s been in various communities more than anyone I’ve seen in that position.”
However, “I’m concerned about how progressive Abrams is,” Allen-Jordan said. Asked what Abrams could do to win her over, Allen-Jordan said she hadn’t seen much of Abrams in her community. “I don’t know what she can do about it at this point,” she said. “I’m just going to have to pray about it.”
Warnock also outranked Abrams among white voters, 25% to 20%. And, surprisingly, Abrams struggled among younger voters, with just 38% of voters aged 18-29 backing her, compared to 52% for Warnock. The only demographic age Abrams gained was 30 to 44 years old.
Overall, Kemp is quite popular, with a 54% approval rating, according to the poll. President Joe Biden’s approval rating in Georgia was just 38%.
The poll was largely complete before the Daily Beast reported on Oct. 7 that a woman had been paid by Walker to have an abortion. The unnamed woman would later give birth to her son, with whom Walker had little contact. (Walker denied the charges despite the Daily Beast publishing evidence like a recovery card, check, and text messages between Walker’s wife and current wife.) Therefore, the story, while bad for the campaign of Walker, doesn’t explain his five-point slide, says Hood.
For Wendy Meehan, Walker was never an option. The 72-year-old Madison County resident said she would vote to elect Warnock for a full term in the Senate because her positions in favor of Medicaid expansion and against the US Supreme Court’s decision- United overriding the constitutional right to abortion align with Democrats.
Meehan said she doesn’t believe Walker is qualified to serve in the Senate. “He shouldn’t be running for the Senate,” she said. “Georgia could do much better than him.”
However, many Republican voters are sticking with Walker. Jim Herring, a 61-year-old Walton County resident, said recent revelations about Walker’s past will “not at all” affect his vote. “One of the things we need to do is cut spending, and unfortunately our current senator doesn’t seem to want to do that,” Herring said.
Pam Calloway, 51, a receptionist in Fayette County, said Walker’s anti-abortion stance is more important than her past actions: “As a Christian, if you were to go back in my life and look at some of the decisions I made before I found grace and before [God] saved me, well, my God, you’d be ripping up skeletons left and right. I mean, if I ran for office, you could crucify me among some of the choices. But I believe he was frank. He didn’t hide anything. »
Lower ticket races show a similar pattern to the top of the ticket. In the race for lieutenant governor, Republican Burt Jones leads Democrat Charlie Bailey by a statistically insignificant 5 percentage points, with 14% undecided. Meanwhile, Attorney General Chris Carr leads 47% to 39%, outside the margin of error. Raffensperger — a hero among some Democrats for standing up to Donald Trump and refusing to overturn the 2020 election results — is running away with his re-election bid, 48%-34%. Democrat Bee Nguyen tried to thwart his reputation by running ads attacking Raffensperger for opposing abortion rights.
The poll didn’t dive deep into individual races for Congress, but 50% of those polled statewide said they want the GOP to take control of Congress, compared to 44% who want the Democrats to keep control.
Although the poll results suggest that Georgia is not yet a blue or even purple state, even if it is not as deep red as it once was, on many issues the majority of voters tend to favor the position of the Democrats. About 61% said affordable housing is a problem; 59% think Georgia should use its budget surplus to increase spending rather than cut taxes; 62% oppose a new law allowing people to carry concealed weapons without a permit; 62% also oppose Georgia’s six-week abortion ban; and 54% support Biden’s plan to forgive student loans.
Meanwhile, the rising cost of living is a major issue for the GOP, with 92% of respondents calling inflation significant.
On democracy itself, voters gave mixed signals. About 54% agreed that democracy does not work in this country and 53% opposed limiting ballot boxes by mail. However, 68% supported a provision in the new Republican Elections Act requiring photo ID to vote by mail.
The poll also found that casino gaming has bipartisan support, with majorities of liberals, moderates and conservatives in favor. Sports betting is less popular, with 46% support and 43% opposition.
Immigration is another issue where voters are fairly evenly split, although mostly along ideological lines. About 39% support ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows young people brought to the United States illegally as children to stay. About 44% want to keep the program in place and oppose the deportation of DACA recipients.
The live poll of 1,030 likely voters by cellphone and landline has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%. Responses were weighted to reflect Hood’s estimate of the 2022 electorate by race, gender, age and level of education.
flagpole intern Shelby Israel, Riley Bunch of Georgia Public Broadcasting, Rebecca Grapevine of Capitol Beat, Ross Williams of the Georgia Recorder and Jillian Price of the AJC contributed to this report.
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