Questionable New Georgia Data

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R)

May 18, 2020 — The Public Opinion Strategies polling company, which conducts research for appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), though that was not mentioned in their latest Georgia survey release, unveiled their new statewide study that finds the appointed incumbent moving up while other Republicans aren’t faring as well.

The statewide POS poll finds President Trump trailing former vice president Joe Biden by a single percentage point (47-46 percent), while Sen. David Perdue (R) is only edging Democrat Jon Ossoff by a 43-41 percent spread with an unknown Libertarian candidate attracting a rather high-seven percent support factor. The questionnaire then became focused upon the COVID-19 crisis and how the situation is being handled from Washington and Atlanta.

Previously Loeffler had dropped to fourth position in other Georgia polls, and she trailed Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) by a 2:1 margin while Collins led all the jungle primary candidates. The POS study (May 4-7; 500 likely Georgia voters) positions Loeffler in second, just one point behind Collins. Almost as mysteriously, while all other recent polling finds the northeast Georgia congressman capturing between 29 and 36 percent of the overall respondent preference, the Loeffler campaign poll sees him dropping 10 points and shows her leading him by a single digit (19-18 percent).

While the racial demographics of the POS 500-person sample of likely Georgia voters are a reasonable characterization of the state – though Hispanics are represented in only half of their actual percentage and Asians are under-counted, too – the partisan breakdown is flawed. (The lower Hispanic and Asian could be one reason Loeffler passed two Democrats to barely claw into second position.)

According to the poll’s small-sample data, 42 percent of the respondents are self-identified Republicans while 41 percent are Democrats. Another 16 percent say they are Independent. Additionally, while the female population base in the state is 51.4 percent statewide, women comprise more than 53 percent of respondents in this poll. Again, a relatively small number, but one that would benefit Sen. Loeffler most likely above any of the other candidates.

Let’s think about the partisan division. Georgia is one of 19 states where voters don’t register by political party, therefore it is impossible to tell exactly how many people identify as Republican, Democrat, or Independent. The electorate has certainly voted, however, in much better Republican numbers than this survey indicates.

Since current US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was first elected Georgia’s governor in 2002, defeating incumbent Roy Barnes (D) in that year, Republicans have won 42 statewide races and lost only eight in succeeding elections. And, they did this with only a one-point partisan tilt?

A more likely division might well see the Republicans hovering around the 42 mark, but the Democrats would be far lower than 41, and Independents much higher than 16. Such a segmentation would be more consistent with southern and national voter trends.

Additionally, while the POS poll is short on respondents thus increasing error rate, it also lacks a category of benchmark questions. There are no job approval questions reported for President Trump, Gov. Kemp, or Sens. Perdue and Loeffler.

If the latter incumbent had favorable ratings, it is probable that those would be published. Not asking, or reporting, any approval ratings gives Loeffler more cover since it is obvious that she would lag behind all of the aforementioned in light of the unfavorable publicity she has recently received over her coronavirus-related stock transactions that involved millions of dollars.

Since the special election has a long cycle and won’t go to a primary vote until Nov. 3, we can expect to see a plethora of polling coming into the public domain during the succeeding months. This poll, however, appears to be an outlier, because it is not consistent with other published data and there has been no obvious news or media occurrence that would have propelled Sen. Loeffler to significantly improve her position within the rest of the candidate field.

In addition to Rep. Collins on the Republican side, the Democratic contenders are Baptist pastor Raphael Warnock Jr., who the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already endorsed, Atlanta businessman Matt Lieberman, the son of former Connecticut senator and 2000 vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, and former US attorney Ed Tarver.

The POS results find Lieberman attracting 17 percent with Rev. Warnock at only the eight percent level, much lower than in other surveys. It does not appear that Tarver was included in this ballot test question.

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