Georgia Turning, Again?

By Jim Ellis

Herschel Walker (R), former University of Georgia and ex-NFL football star and current Senate candidate, enjoys his largest lead of the early election cycle.

March 11, 2022 — It was well publicized in the 2020 election cycle that the state of Georgia is beginning to swing toward the Democrats, but a new Democratic poll contains some evidence that predicting a long-standing transformational flip may have been premature. Now, the new polling suggests that Georgia voters could be open to a Republican comeback.

Blueprint Polling released their new Georgia statewide study earlier this week, and projects that GOP candidate Herschel Walker enjoys his largest lead of the early election cycle but it’s only a three-plus percentage point edge, well within the polling margin of error. The Blueprint survey (March 2-8; 662 definite (90 percent) and probable (10 percent) Georgia voters; live interview) produces a ballot test featuring Walker holding a 48.5 – 45.4 percent slight advantage over Sen. Raphael Warnock (D).

The most surprising part of the Warnock-Walker crosstabs was the Republican leading among younger voters. Walker led Warnock by just over one percentage point among those aged 18-34, typically a group that widely supports Democrats, and trails only among those aged 45-54. Among the highest turnout age sector, those 65 and older, Walker held a five-point advantage.

While Sen. Warnock still held a slight edge among Independents, 42-40 percent, Walker attracted 12 percent of Democratic votes while Sen. Warnock could manage only 9.5 percent among Republicans. The two were tied among college educated voters, a strong improvement for the Republican in this category, while Walker led by five points among those who had not attended or graduated from college.

But this result is far from the poll’s most interesting piece of information. Rather, the question about who the respondents would support in a presidential re-match produces an eye-opening result. This is particularly true when remembering that Georgia came down to an official, though disputed, small margin of 11,779 votes in Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s favor from just under 5 million ballots cast.

The Blueprint polling universe, however, responded that those surveyed would now back former President Trump with a stunning 50-36 percent margin. In the crosstabs, Trump would carry men with a huge 57-32 percent majority, and would even lead among women, 44-40 percent.

Politically, the biggest change was among Independents. In the actual 2020 election, Independents reportedly broke for Biden, 53-44 percent. The Blueprint poll shows them now switching to Trump 42-24 percent with literally a majority of the current president’s vote within this category falling away.

Also, surprisingly, Trump would have a three-point edge among those with a college degree, a segment in which the former president did poorly nationwide in 2020.

Turnout is always the key in the midterm elections, and the Republicans in this poll, specifically Walker and Trump, do significantly better compared to their Democratic counterparts among those who say they will definitely vote. Trump holds a huge 52-37 percent lead among those categorizing themselves as definite 2022 voters, while Walker leads Sen. Warnock 50-45 percent within this most committed voter segment.

The Blueprint survey unfortunately did not test the governor’s race, because it is this contest that is the likely turnout driver in Georgia. Gov. Brian Kemp faces former US Sen. David Perdue in the Republican primary, a race that could prove divisive for the GOP winner against consensus Democrat Stacey Abrams. Abrams returns for a re-match in 2022 after losing the 2018 race to Kemp by a scant 50.2 – 48.8 percent margin.

Four other pollsters tested the Republican primary during the past 30 days, however, but none matched either Kemp or Perdue to oppose Abrams in general election ballot tests. The four — BK Strategies, Fox News, Insider Advantage, and the Trafalgar Group — all found Gov. Kemp leading Perdue in a range between nine and 15 points, but in only one did the leader actually reaching the 50 percent plateau.

While Gov. Kemp has the early advantage, his lead appears tenuous, suggesting that the contest may close toward Perdue as the campaign intensifies. Regardless of the primary outcomes on May 24, Georgia will again become a key state in the upcoming national election and once again the eventual results appear uncertain.

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