Gov. Brian Kemp speaking at the state Capitol this spring after the passage of Senate Bill 106, the bill that gave him the power to design health care waiver requests to the federal government. PHOTO by Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

AJC poll: Kemp’s popularity on the rise 

President Donald Trump and other Republicans struggled in the latest Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll. Gov. Brian Kemp’s approval ratings, however, went in the opposite direction.

The poll released last week showed roughly 54% of registered Georgia voters approve of the Republican governor one year since he won the election.

His numbers have been on the upswing since January, when only 37% of registered voters gave him a favorable review. And it’s improved since April, when about 46% of Georgia voters said they approved of his performance in office.

Back then, fewer than 40% of women and one-third of independents and roughly one-tenth of Democrats said they approved of his record. In the November poll, the rise in his approval ratings was fueled by support from a majority of women and independents. He also improved among Democrats, with one-quarter saying they strongly or somewhat approve of his first year in the job.

» Interactive: See poll results

» Related: How — and why — we conducted this poll

» Related: Trump faces tough re-election fight in Georgia

» PDF: Complete poll crosstabs

“Economically, Georgia is a pretty strong state, so it would take something extraordinary like threatening large companies that operate within your state based on some kind of moral standing to shake that in any way,” said Zach Hartman, a 33-year-old scientific content manager in Sandy Springs. 

Kemp’s upward trend comes after a first legislative session when he signed legislation that would outlaw most abortions, triggering a legal battle that has stalled the new restrictions from taking effect and threats of a boycott from Hollywood studios. 

Kemp also championed a string of initiatives that even his predecessor, the more moderate Nathan Deal, didn’t embrace. They include an expanded medical marijuana program and healthcare “waivers” that could lead add more people to the Medicaid rolls.

Kemp’s supporters also point to other factors for his rising numbers, including a spate of key appointments that have even surprised his Democrats and new efforts to crack down on violent crimes like gangs and human trafficking. 

Some of his critics, meanwhile, predict the anti-abortion “heartbeat” measure will come back to haunt him.

“That is legitimately the most disgusting thing that’s happened in government in the last – I don’t even know how long,” said Zoa Hepburn, a 32-year-old bartender in Atlanta. 

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