Stacey Abrams (left) and Brian Kemp.

New poll shows razor-thin race for Georgia governor and solid Trump approvals 

A new poll released Wednesday shows a neck-and-neck race for Georgia governor, solid approval ratings for President Donald Trump and that voters are more likely to support Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation than oppose it.

The Reuters/Ipsos/University of Virginia Center for Politics poll had Kemp leading Abrams 47-46, a statistically insignificant difference within the margin of error. Two percent of voters backed Libertarian Ted Metz and 4 percent were undecided. 

You can see the crosstabs and methodology here. 

The findings mirror other recent polls, including an Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Channel 2 Action News survey released last week that showed a razor-thin race. A dive into the crosstabs, though, reveals some interesting nuances. 

The poll had Trump’s approval rating hovering around 50 percent among likely voters, higher than some other previous surveys. That includes positive reviews from roughly one-third of independents and 90 percent of Republicans. 

Even so, the president remains a singularly polarizing figure. Roughly half of likely Georgia voters said they were “somewhat” or “very” motivated to vote for a candidate who will support Trump, while about the same proportion said they were motivated to vote against a Trump backer. 

That’s a key factor in the race for Georgia governor. Kemp brandishes Trump’s support and spent time Tuesday with Vice President Mike Pence. Abrams is a vocal opponent of the president’s administration, though she often steers clear of criticizing him directly on the campaign trail

Voters gave Kemp the slight edge over Abrams on handling economic issues, and a wider advantage on immigration and law-and-order policies. Abrams outpolled Kemp on healthcare, education, the environment and social divides. 

Roughly 49 percent of likely voters support Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the nation’s top court, compared to 44 percent who oppose it. And 44 percent of voters don’t believe the accusations of sexual misconduct, while 40 percent do. 

A slim majority of likely voters believe things in the country are headed in the wrong direction, while roughly the same proportion believes things in the state are headed in the right direction. That speaks to why both candidates are cozying up to Gov. Nathan Deal, though to different degrees. 

Chris Jackson, the vice president of Ipsos, called the contest a “microcosm of politics in the age of Trump” and a true test of which candidate was better able to mobilize their base. 

“Depending on who shows up, this race could go either way,” he added. “A true toss-up.” 

Other tidbits:

  • The generic ballots give Republicans a slight 47-45 edge over Democrats, though the GOP is struggling among independents. They favor Democrats by a double-digit margin. 
  • In a good sign for your Insider’s line of work, nearly 80 percent of voters said they had “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of interest in following news about the midterms. 
  • A plurality of voters – 17 percent – said healthcare was their top issue, followed by economy (16) and immigration (10). Republicans and independents were most concerned about the economy, while Democrats were most concerned about healthcare. 
  • Two-thirds of voters saw Kemp as a “traditional politician,” while only half viewed Abrams in the same light. 
  • Among all voters – not just the likely ones – Abrams leads Kemp 37-35 with 13 percent undecided. About 10 percent of those respondents said they won’t vote. 

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.