Georgians, whose votes proved key during the last election in setting the nation's balance of power, are unhappy with the way the country is headed, according to an AARP poll released last week that holds clues as to how candidates in the state can succeed in the coming election.
As background, Georgia's last governor's race, in 2018, was close, with Republican Brian Kemp winning 50.2% to Democrat Stacey Abrams' 48.8% of the vote.
After the election, Abrams said that she did not believe the election was fair and would not concede.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Raphael Warnock won against Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler, who had been appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to complete Sen. Johnny Isakson's term, in a Jan. 5, 2021, runoff. Warnock won 51% to 49%.
The second race for a U.S. Senate seat from Georgia was decided in the same runoff. Republican incumbent David Perdue lost to investigative journalist Jon Ossoff, 49% to 51%.
The third race in the runoff was for a statewide Public Service Commission seat, which was won by Republican Lauren "Bubba" McDonald Jr. This leads me to believe that both Perdue and Loeffler could have won the runoff.
All this happened right after the 2020 presidential race, which went to Joe Biden over President Donald Trump by 11,779 votes in Georgia. In the time between the general election in November 2020 and the runoff on Jan. 5, 2021, Trump railed against a rigged general election in Georgia, likely suppressing Republican turnout for the runoff.
Perdue and Loeffler joined Trump on stage at rallies, and in the end neither could win enough votes to remain in office. The only Republican winners in those two runoffs were the PAC runners, consultants, media placement experts and ad makers to the two losing candidates.
This year, encouraged by Trump, Perdue ran against Kemp in the primary for governor. Kemp won handily, pulling in 74% of Republican primary voters. Kemp has raised $31.5 million, with $26.2 million coming from Georgia, while Abrams has raised $49.6 million, with only $7 million coming from Georgia. Of that, $1.4 million came from Fair Fight, a political action group that Abrams herself founded. Donors from California have given $10.2 million to Abrams. Georgians don't like outside money coming into their state in an attempt to sway voters. Abrams used the same approach in 2018 and it didn't work then.
So now, to the results of the poll, which was conducted by Fabrizio Ward & Impact Research (July 5-11, 550 likely Georgia voters, +/- 4.4 points).
"Georgia voters are pessimistic about the direction of the country," according to the AARP press release (12% right direction/88% wrong direction). President Biden's job approval is negative at 34%-65%, while (former) President Trump's recalled job approval is mixed (49/50) ... The top two federal issues for GA voters 50 and older are the economy (15%) and inflation (14%), and most voters say inflation rather than the Jan. 6 commission or overturning Roe will be more important to their vote in November." The results on the state level are similar regarding issues, but more people believe that the state is heading in the right direction, 41%, while 59% say it's moving in the wrong direction.
For the governor's race, Kemp is ahead of Abrams 52% to 45%. This seven-point gap increases to 15 points (56% to 41%) among voters 50 and older. While the Republican candidate is ahead in the governor's race, Democrat Warnock is besting Republican candidate Hershel Walker by 3 points (50% to 47%) in the Senate race.
What's driving this? Kemp has a favorable rating of 50% versus 45% unfavorable, and Warnock is split 47% favorable/ unfavorable. Abrams is weighted opposite, with 46% favorable versus 50% unfavorable, as is Walker, with 41% favorable and 49% unfavorable.
Warnock has a bigger lead among women voters, 58% to 39%, (a huge 19-point difference), than even Abrams, who is 11 points ahead with women.
Walker was pushed into the running by Trump and has been propelled by national groups and leaders. A former University of Georgia football star who has recently lived out of state, he blew through the primary without having to debate any of the other Republican candidates.
My prognosis is that Kemp wins, as does Warnock. While some will claim that this is a sign of a purple state, my take is that the election will be the result of the two best candidates winning. If Republicans want to win federal races, their candidates should reflect the state in which they run rather than appeal to national groups.
To find out more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.