Politics: Raphael Warnock has a nine-point lead over Herschel Walker in the Georgia Senate race, while Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams are in a close contest for governor: poll

Walker aims to pivot focus back to Dems in tight Ga. race

  Walker aims to pivot focus back to Dems in tight Ga. race ALTO, Georgia (AP) — Republican U.S. Senate nominee Herschel Walker commiserated as north Georgia farmers bemoaned environmental regulations and rising costs of doing business. Minutes before, the former football star and political newcomer volleyed with journalists on issues ranging from gas prices to abortion. In both audiences, Walker tried every way he could to steer the conversation back to Sen. Raphael Warnock and a Democratic administration whose popularity lags in this battleground state that President Joe Biden won by the narrowest of margins. © Provided by Associated Press Republican U.S.

Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia. Tom Williams/Pool via AP, File © Tom Williams/Pool via AP, File Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia. Tom Williams/Pool via AP, File
  • Warnock has a 48%-39% lead over Walker in the Georgia Senate race, per a new SurveyUSA poll.
  • Warnock is seeking a full six-year term after winning a Senate runoff election in January 2021.
  • Walker, an ex-NFL player, is a first-time political candidate backed by former President Trump.

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia has a nine-point lead over Republican challenger Herschel Walker in the state's high-profile Senate contest, according to a new poll conducted by SurveyUSA for 11Alive News.

The survey showed Warnock with 48% support among likely voters in the Peach State, while Walker received 39% support; eight percent of respondents were undecided.

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In the poll, nine-in-ten Democrats (90%) were lined up behind Warnock, while Walker earned the support of 77% of Republicans; 10% of Republican respondents crossed over to support Warnock over Walker in the survey.

Critically, Warnock has strong leads among respondents in both urban and suburban areas, whose firm support of Democratic candidates in recent cycles have turned Georgia from a Republican stronghold to a swing state highly coveted by both political parties.

Walker — a former University of Georgia football standout who was born in Augusta and grew up in rural Wrightsville — had a 28-point led among rural voters. However, while Republicans have performed strongly with rural voters for years, Democratic gains in the fast-growing Atlanta metropolitan area have started to cut deeply into GOP margins in recent statewide races.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp favored over Democrat Stacey Abrams, handicapper says

  Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp favored over Democrat Stacey Abrams, handicapper says Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp got a big boost from the Cook Political Report on Friday after the influential political handicapper updated its rating of the governor's race from a "toss-up" to "lean Republican."Kemp had "looked like the most vulnerable Republican incumbent on the map" at the beginning of the year. But that's been mitigated by Kemp's landslide victory over Donald Trump-endorsed candidate David Perdue in the Republican primary election, wrote Jessica Taylor, a Cooke editor.

Republicans feel that Walker's near-universal name recognition in the state and early endorsement from former President Donald Trump will be key in what is poised to a GOP-friendly midterm electorate.

But in addition to Warnock making some inroads with GOP voters, he also led Walker with independents (44%-35%), a group that has backed fewer Republicans in statewide races in recent cycles. (In the 2020 election, now-President Joe Biden won Georgia independents by a 53%-44% margin over then-President Donald Trump, per CNN exit polling.)

Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker. AP Photo/Brynn Anderson © AP Photo/Brynn Anderson Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker. AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

And Walker has had to face myriad of questions regarding his campaign, from public revelations about the number of children that he has fathered to remarks that he made regarding climate policy and China's air.

Meanwhile, Warnock has sought to make the case that he has been laser-focused on the economy in the face of Biden's lackluster approval ratings.

The senator, who was first elected in a 2021 runoff election against Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, is seeking his first full six-year term in office this fall.

In the gubernatorial contest, incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp led Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams by a razor-thin 45%-44% margin; four percent of respondents indicated that they'll back another candidate while seven percent were undecided.

In the poll, Abrams held 92% of Democrats, while Kemp had the backing of 87% of Republicans.

However, unlike the matchup between Warnock and Walker, independents supported Kemp by a 20% margin (48%-28%), a clear edge that buoys the Republican despite Abrams so far having done a better job of consolidating intraparty support.

While Abrams ran unopposed for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Kemp had to beat back a challenge from ex-Sen. David Perdue, who had been endorsed by Trump as a result of the governor's refusal to help the former president overturn the 2020 election results in the state.

Biden won Georgia in the 2020 presidential race, but Trump has continued to insist — without any evidence — that there was widespread election malfeasance.

The race between Abrams and Kemp is a rematch of the 2018 gubernatorial election, when the now-governor defeated the former Democratic state lawmaker and prominent voting-rights activist 50.2%-48.8%, narrowly winning the contest and avoiding a separate runoff election by exceeding the 50% threshold.

SurveyUSA polled 604 likely voters from July 21 through July 24; the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.3 percentage points.

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Walker's Chances of Beating Warnock With 100 Days to Midterm: Polls .
The Trump-backed Republican hopes to help the GOP regain control of the Senate.Walker has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a race that could also determine which party controls the Senate. Meanwhile, Walker hopes to maintain Democrats' momentum in Georgia.

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