Survey USA: Senate race has flipped in Georgia

Going into the final week, the close Senate races are beginning to shake out — and perhaps get caught in the national wave. That may be the case in Georgia, where Survey USA’s polling shows a five-point shift in the race between Michelle Nunn and David Perdue to replace Saxby Chambliss. Last week, Nunn edged Perdue 46/44, but Perdue now leads 48/45 with seven days left. The “dramatic” difference, Survey USA reports, is among women:

Compared to a WXIA-TV pre-election tracking poll one week ago, Democrat Michelle Nunn is upside down. One week ago, Nunn led Republican David Perdue by 2 points, 46% to 44%. Today, in a dramatic reversal, Perdue is on top, 48% to 45%, a 5-point right turn in one of the nation’s most high-visibility contests. Polling for Atlanta’s WXIA-TV 11Alive was conducted by SurveyUSA.

Where in the Senate race is there movement poll-on-poll? Among women, where Perdue had trailed by 13 points and now trails by just 2. And among core Republicans, where Perdue’s 84-point advantage is the largest it has been in 7 WXIA-TV tracking polls going back to 08/18/14. There is movement to Perdue among seniors, where he now leads by 25 points.

That’s not the only bad news, either. While momentum has shifted to Perdue, those who have already voted are breaking sharply to the GOP:

Worse for Nunn: among voters who tell SurveyUSA they have already returned a ballot, Perdue leads by 10 points.

The difference between the two polls isn’t demographic. Women made up 52% of the likely-voter sample in both surveys, and 51% two weeks ago in the same series. Democrats went from 38% two weeks ago to 40% in this survey. There has been a little more volatility in the age demos, but not enough to account for this swing. (It’s worth noting that results in the age demos have been volatile as well; Perdue has won the youngest demographic by 1 and 3 points, and also lost it by 20 points last week, for instance.)

Perdue also appears to be solidifying his support among independents.  He led by six points in each of the previous two installments in this series, but now has a 13-point lead, as Nunn falls to 33% among unaffiliated likely voters. As noted, Perdue leads among those who already have voted with a majority, 54/44, but also leads among those who haven’t by 47/45. That’s a change from last week, when Perdue trailed 43/46 among those waiting to vote. That might be one of the better indicators of momentum in these results, apart from the topline results themselves.

But are these dramatic changes, as Survey USA says? They appear to be at least significant, but dancing on the edge of the margin of error between this poll and last week’s survey. One argument in favor of SUSA’s analysis is the rather steady results in the gubernatorial race. Nathan Deal leads this week 46/44 over Jason Carter, which is almost identical to last week’s 45/43 and not much different than the 46/46 result from two weeks ago.

There may be some measure of momentum for Deal too. Deal now has a nine-point lead among those who have voted already (53/44) and splits among those still waiting to cast ballots at 45% each. Last week, Deal barely edged Carter among early voters, 49/47, while having just a three-point edge among those who hadn’t cast a ballot yet (45/42). Deal has come from five points back among women to a three-point lead, which may mean that Georgia women are moving en masse to the GOP in the final days of the election.

These races may end up producing runoffs, depending on how much the independent candidates draw from either candidate. The Senate race may not see that much of an impact. Only 1% of early voters have cast ballots for Amanda Swafford, the Libertarian Party candidate, while 3% of those who haven’t voted say they still plan to support her. If they don’t materialize, the Senate race could be over on Election Night.