It should be expected that a Democrat who could not win her own state in a year the Republicans were not expected to do well would not have a snowball’s chance in a Georgia summer of winning a gubernatorial race in 2022. But it’s much tougher for incumbents, even in years their party is in power, to lose to candidates who are perceived as weak given past performance on the campaign trail.
Yet, a new poll out today shows that Stacey Abrams, who is polling eight points behind Governor Brian Kemp, can’t do any better than about 45 percent in the polls (today’s has her at 43.5 percent). The problem is that Warnock is only able to pick up the same amount of support. What’s worse for Warnock is that Herschel Walker hasn’t hit his ceiling yet.
The Phillips Academy Poll shows Warnock trending downward from his high of 50 percent in the beginning of July while Walker is continuing to trend upward from recent polling. Warnock is at 43.6 percent to Walker’s 45.2 percent.
Warnock is leading by 64% among Black voters even though both Warnock and Walker are African American. Warnock also has strong support among low-income and urban voters, where he leads by 23% and 16% respectively. Conversely, Walker receives most of his support from rural voters, where he is up by 20%. Georgia’s suburban voters, a key voting block in the 2020 election, favor Walker by 5.1%.
That last sentence is a big red flag for the Warnock campaign. The suburbs helped turn Georgia’s two Senate seats blue in 2020 and when coupled with a resurgence of the rural vote in Georgia, a lot of whom stayed home in the 2020 runoff, that could potentially mean that Walker is actually about 2-3 points higher than where he is polling currently.
The Democrats have a ceiling in Georgia that is just exacerbated by the current political climate. That 43 percent or so that Warnock and Abrams are picking up is probably the true Democratic voter segment. The true Republican voter segment is likewise in the mid to high 40s. Warnock cannot distance himself from Biden enough and show that he’s for Georgia voters enough to pick up more independents right now. Walker, however, can benefit from the deteriorating position of the Democrats across the country, especially in a southern state like Georgia, and can pick up more independent voters without having to do a lot more than he’s doing right now.
Warnock won on a very strange fluke in a very strange year. He can’t recreate those circumstances. He can win some independents back (there is still plenty of time for him to do so), but the national Democratic scene and the economy don’t offer him any assistance.