First major poll since the general election shows Georgia Senate race outcome uncertain

AP Photo/Akili-Casundria Ramsess

The results of the first big poll to focus on the run-off race between Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock in Georgia have been released. AARP commissioned the poll and it shows Warnock, the Democrat incumbent, at 51% while Herschel Walker, the Republican challenger, is at 47%. The race is within the margin of error, though, which is 4.4%. In other words, it’s anyone’s guess so far.

Fabrizio Ward & Impact Research’s polling shows that neither candidate is securing the majority of votes needed for victory yet. It’s all about motivating voters and getting out the vote. One factor that was discovered is the age gap in support for the candidates. If Warnock wins, it will be thanks to the support of younger voters.

“Let’s state the obvious: No one knows who is going to come out to vote on Dec. 6,” said John Anzalone, who is perhaps best known as President Joe Biden’s pollster. “But we also learned something about the motivation levels that’s driving people to the polls.”

“If Warnock wins this race, it’s because younger voters actually turn out,” said Bob Ward, another pollster. “The age gaps here are staggering. Even though younger voters are a smaller share of the electorate, they’re keeping Warnock afloat.”

Each candidate is earning the support of his own party’s voters, which is important because both are concentrating on winning the split-ticket voters who turned out in the general election. Thousands of split-ticket ballots were cast where a voter voted for Governor Kemp for governor and Raphael Warnock for the Senate. They stuck with the incumbents. So, it’s good news for Walker that it looks like Republican voters may be ready to fully support him in the run-off.

The bad news for Walker is that independent voters are leaning toward voting for Warnock.

But the poll showed Warnock has a commanding lead of 54% to 39% over Walker among independent voters — an important bloc that once reliably voted for Republicans in Georgia.

“Independents are going to be about 30% of the electorate. That doesn’t mean all of them are up in the air,” Ward said. “But there’s a big group of voters who are middle-of-the-road, and many are going to show up in a lower-turnout election.”

Another finding of the poll is that there is a gender gap with voters. It was present in the general election and it remains during the run-off race. Warnock leads Walker among women by 11 points. Walker has a 5-point advantage among men. The favorability ratings go Warnock’s way – Warnock’s at 51% positive and 45% unfavorable with voters. Walker is a little underwater. He has a 45% favorable rating with a 49% unfavorable rating.

Joe Biden is unpopular in Georgia with an approval rating of 43%. His favorability is a little lower among older voters aged 50 and older. Warnock continues to distance himself from Biden. Biden has not been asked to campaign for Warnock (and neither has Kamala Harris) yet the Warnock campaign brought it former President Obama in the early voting days of the general election and is doing the same for the run-off. Obama is scheduled to campaign for Warnock on December 1. Warnock was asked about Biden coming to campaign for him and he punted. Then he gave a general kind of non-answer. This happened during a press gaggle after a rally in Conyers, Georgia on Monday.

“President Obama is retired. I don’t control the schedule of the president of the United States. We’ve got a little over two weeks. We’ll see who shows up,” Walker said.

“Listen, I welcome the people of Georgia to show up. And we’ll see over the course of the next few weeks who shows up. But it’s a big tent, and I’m trying to do everything I can to help the people of Georgia to understand the work that I’ve already done for them, and to help them understand that we need 51,” Warnock said.

“That’s what we need. We need 51 United States senators who are focused on the work that I’ve been trying to do that we passed in these bills. But also, we need to try to find ways to get bipartisan work done. Which I’ve done,” he added, mentioning work he said he’d done for Georgia farmers, as well as building a new interstate through the state.

Yeah, but do you want the President of the United States to campaign for you, or not, Senator? Clearly, he does not. He just doesn’t have the cojones to say it out loud. He hasn’t even invited Kamala to come to Georgia for him. There have been no plans announced for any member of the Biden administration to come and campaign for Warnock.

The poll shows that older voters are particularly concerned about the high rate of inflation, threats to democracy, and challenges for Social Security and Medicare programs. Older voters favor a candidate who supports protecting Medicare from budget cuts and allowing the government to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. That’s pretty standard for any election.

The run-off race is December 6.

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