Georgia's High-Profile Races Taking Shape in the Polls

Stacey Abrams trails in governor's contest; Herschel Walker tied with Sen. Raphael Warnock
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2022 1:50 PM CDT
Georgia's High-Profiles Races Taking Shape in the Polls
Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, July 26, 2022. Georgia voters will see at least one fall debate between Sen. Raphael Warnock and GOP challenger Herschel Walker. Warnock on Tuesday evening accepted Walker's proposal for an Oct. 14 debate in Savannah.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

After swinging into decidedly purple territory in the 2020 presidential election and the 2021 Senate runoffs, Georgia appears to be trending red ahead of the midterms, for the most part. According to a recent poll of likely voters, conducted by the UGA School of Public Affairs and sponsored by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Gov. Brian Kemp has pulled well ahead of Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams, 50 to 42. Down-ticket races are similarly gloomy for Democrats, with one notable exception: the marquee Senate race between Sen. Raphael Warnock and GOP challenger Herschel Walker. The two are statistically deadlocked, with Walker showing a two-point advantage, 46 to 44, within the poll’s margin of error.

Below the surface, the AJC poll offers additional insight into attitudes among Georgia voters, such as the fact that President Biden sports a low approval rating of 37%—he has gotten a bounce elsewhere, but not in Georgia—while 54% approve of Kemp’s job as governor. Among those who plan to vote for Kemp, some 9% say they also plan to vote for Warnock, an unusually strong proportion of split-ticket voters, especially in these highly partisan times.

In regard to the Senate race, FiveThirtyEight’s Geoffrey Skelley points out that Warnock is relatively popular and that incumbents still get a slight advantage; plus, he's running against a political neophyte who has faced an outsized share of negative press and controversy in recent months. On Monday, per the Hill, Walker grabbed headlines for saying, “I’m not that smart” while predicting that Warnock will “embarrass” him at an upcoming debate. A campaign spokesperson later downplayed Walker’s comments as sarcasm. (More 2022 midterms stories.)

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