I saw this poll earlier this morning and my first reaction was: Really?
Having just gone through months of bad polling are we ready to dive right back in and pretend polling is reliable? I don’t think so. And yet, there’s no denying these races are critically important. If Democrats somehow win both, they would control the Senate. If Republicans win one or both, they will hold the Senate.
So let’s just say up front that this poll is probably not reliable, though in this case it does show Republicans narrowly leading both Senate contests:
The poll showed Kelly Loeffler at 49% of the vote compared to Democrat Raphael Warnock’s 48% showing – within the margin of error of 2.6 percentage points. About 3% were undecided.
In the other race, U.S. Sen. David Perdue had a 50-46 lead over Democrat Jon Ossoff, echoing the results of the November election when the Republican fell just under the majority-vote mark he needed to win outright. About 4% of Georgians were undecided.
The other significant finding in the poll is that three of the candidates have roughly even favorability and unfavourability numbers. The exception is Raphael Warnock who is +11 in favorability. Why? Warnock was largely ignored during the election. Expect that to change dramatically between now and Jan. 5. In fact, as Ed pointed out this morning, that has already changed with video of Warnock’s celebration of Castro being and defense of Jeremiah Wright already starting to make the rounds.
FiveThirtyEight takes a look at the Georgia runoffs today and suggests there are plenty of reasons for Democrats to be pessimistic:
First, most of those rosy polls for Warnock were measuring support among the universe of likely voters for the general election, not the runoff. (Monmouth was an exception, however; it still found Warnock ahead, by 6 points, among likely runoff voters.) But even if these polls are an accurate snapshot of the runoff right now, a lot can change in two months. For example, supporters of Rep. Doug Collins, Loeffler’s main Republican rival in the first round, may not have told pollsters they would support Loeffler amid the fall’s incredibly bitter campaign, but they probably will come around to her now that she is the only Republican candidate on the ballot. Remember, partisanship is a powerful indicator of vote choice.
Another reason Democrats might do worse in the runoff: It’s an off-cycle election that will no longer share the ballot with the presidential race. Now that Biden is the president-elect, many Democratic voters may feel that their mission has been accomplished and not bother to vote in the runoff. This is exactly what happened in previous Georgia runoffs — whether for Senate or other statewide offices. Since the late 1960s, the state has seen eight runoffs between a Democrat and a Republican for statewide office, and as you can see in the table below, in seven of the eight runoffs, Republican vote share margins improved, sometimes substantially so, as turnout fell sharply from the general election vote in November.
The big caveat here is that this is a very special type of runoff, coming just two months after the election and holding the keys to control of the Senate. So I think it would be extremely unwise to assume Democrats will have lost interest by January.
Frankly, even if Georgia voters want to lose interest they won’t be allowed to. The amount of money pouring into the state for TV ads by both parties is going to be astounding. Stacey Abrams group Fair Fight has already raised nearly $10 million since Friday and on the GOP side:
Club for Growth Action announces it will spend upwards of $10 million to "educate the public about the policy positions of Senators Perdue and Loeffler" in #GASenRunoff. @club4growth pic.twitter.com/72cbL1YAdn
— Evie Fordham (@eviefordham) November 11, 2020
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll be shocked if the combined totals spent on these runoff elections isn’t half a billion or more. The point being that when you add in all the media, the political phone calls and barnstorming the state by all 4 candidates and their surrogates, it’s safe to say voters in Georgia are going to be allowed a nanosecond of peace until this is over. And the national media will make sure no one outside of Georgia forgets about it either.
Think of it as election overtime. No? That doesn’t help? Well, sorry but we’re stuck with it.