Internal GOP poll points to troubling signs for Georgia Republicans

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (right) is joined by Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (left) and Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston (center) before the start of a press conference at Liberty Plaza, across the street from the state Capitol building in Atlanta on Monday, April 20, 2020. During the presser, Gov. Kemp revealed that he planned to allow some small business owners to open back up by the end of the week. (ALYSSA POINTER / Alyssa.Pointer@AJC.com)
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (right) is joined by Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (left) and Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston (center) before the start of a press conference at Liberty Plaza, across the street from the state Capitol building in Atlanta on Monday, April 20, 2020. During the presser, Gov. Kemp revealed that he planned to allow some small business owners to open back up by the end of the week. (ALYSSA POINTER / Alyssa.Pointer@AJC.com)

An internal poll conducted for the Georgia House GOP Caucus points to troubling signs for Republican leaders: President Donald Trump is deadlocked with Joe Biden and voters aren’t giving the White House, Gov. Brian Kemp or the Legislature high marks for the coronavirus response.

The poll also suggests trouble for U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, showing the former financial executive with 11% of the vote and essentially tied with Democrats Matt Lieberman and Raphael Warnock. U.S. Rep. Doug Collins leads the November field with 29% of the vote, and outdoes Loeffler among Republicans by a 62-18 margin.

The survey, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was conducted by the political polling and research firm Cygnal between April 25-27 and it involved 591 likely voters. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.

It’s one of the few recent polls that offer a snapshot of how Georgians view the government’s pandemic response, though it was taken before Kemp’s decision Thursday to lift the shelter-in-place order for most Georgians.

It was conducted at the behest of a group led by House Speaker David Ralston, an ally of Collins who has feuded with Kemp over state budget priorities and other flashpoints this year. So weigh that factor as you’re reading the results.

There were some bright spots for the GOP. While voters were split over which party they trusted to contain the disease, they favored Republicans 50-36 over Democrats when asked which they trust to revive the economy.

And U.S. Sen. David Perdue led Democrat Jon Ossoff in a head-to-head matchup, though the first-term Republican’s other potential opponents apparently weren’t included in the survey.

A poll released earlier this week by the University of Georgia also gauged opinions on the coronavirus response, but it steered clear of overtly political questions.

After this story published, Collins spokesman Dan McLagan sent this statement: “She’s a sitting U.S. Senator who has already spent nearly $10 million and is in 4th place. Her campaign is deader than disco. No amount of money can fix this but her team is getting rich and won’t tell her the truth.”

A Loeffler spokesman questioned the integrity of the poll.

"Kelly is focused on the millions of Georgians who are struggling to make ends meet during this global pandemic - not on a worthless poll manufactured by her opponents for an election that's six months away," said Stephen Lawson.
"Instead of trashing Trump, Kemp, and others who are delivering relief during this pandemic, maybe career politician Doug Collins and his allies should lift a finger and earn their taxpayer funded paychecks."

Among the Cygnal internal poll’s findings:

  • Voters are evenly split on Trump, but Kemp's disapproval rating (52%) outweigh his approval rating (43%). Loeffler is deeper underwater after grappling with an uproar over her stock transactions during the pandemic, with an approval of 20% and disapproval of 47%. Collins' approval rating is about 10 percentage points higher than his disapproval. 
  • Georgians say their top priority is controlling the spread of the coronavirus and returning life to normal (35%), followed by rebuilding the economy (25%) and providing access to affordable, quality healthcare (17%).
  • Trump and Biden are in a statistical tie in the race for president, with Trump at 45% and Biden at 44%. Only about 5% of Georgians are undecided, and another 6% back a third-party candidate.
  • U.S. Sen. David Perdue leads Democrat Jon Ossoff 45-39 in a head-to-head matchup, with 12% of voters undecided.  
  • More Georgians said they were most concerned with public health (60%) than the economic impact (36%) of the pandemic.  
  • A majority of voters disapprove of the way Trump (51%) and Kemp (54%) are handling the pandemic. The General Assembly barely breaks even on the question, and many voters signaled they don't know what lawmakers are doing.
  • About 58% of voters said Georgia is moving "too quickly" to ease restrictions, though most (54%) back social-distancing measures and business closures.
  • A plurality of votes (34%) think the "worst is yet to come" from the pandemic, while only about 22% think the worst is over. About 30% feel "we're in the middle of the worst right now."
  • Most Georgians feel social distancing policies should continue at least a few more weeks, if not months, and only about 15% contend the state should "open everything now." 

Review the toplines for yourself:

 

And here’s the polling memo sent to Georgia House GOP officials:

 

About the Author

ajc.com