Republican gubernatorial nominee Brian Kemp, left, welcomes Donald Trump Jr on stage during a campaign event Tuesday in Athens. AP/John Bazemore

The Jolt: Two polls say Georgia’s race for governor remains neck-and-neck

We’ve got two statewide polls to chew over this morning. Both register Georgia’s race for governor as a dead heat.

And both will be judged by an AJC survey that will be out tomorrow.

An 11Alive/Survey USA online poll posted Tuesday puts Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams at 47-45 percent, respectively. (MOE +/-4.9 percentage points) From the notations above SurveyUSA’s crosstabs:

Abrams, who is African American, leads 17:1 among black voters, who represent 30% of the likely electorate according to SurveyUSA's modeling. White voters, who are 64% of SurveyUSA's electorate, back Kemp by nearly 3:1.

The latter point is actually on the verge of being good news for Abrams. Like a Landmark Communications survey released last week, the SurveyUSA poll has Abrams with the support of 25 percent of likely white voters. If that figure holds, it would be an improvement over the 2014 performance of Democrat Jason Carter in his gubernatorial bid. He received an estimated 23 percent of the white vote.

Here’s the line that Democrats do need to worry about:

[O]f concern to Abrams and of great help to Kemp, independent voters break 46% to 29% for the Republican.

About 18 percent of independent voters are undecided, according to SurveyUSA – and if they break Republican in the same proportion, we could see a decided Kemp surge in late October.

On the other hand, this is something you’re free to ignore:

When voters statewide are asked whether they will vote for the Republican candidate for the US House of Representatives or the Democratic candidate, 46% pick the Democrat, 44% pick the Republican.

With the way Georgia’s congressional lines are drawn, a statistical jump ball like this is no indication of Republican trouble in the Sixth or Seventh congressional districts.

The SurveyUSA poll also included a number of issue questions, but this is where some discernment is required. The above stats were generated by 655 likely November voters. The issue questions were answered by 1,027 registered voters – which means a lower MOE (3.8 percentage points) but reduced political credibility. Among the findings:

-- 72 percent favor legalization of state cultivation of medicinal marijuana;

-- 55 percent favor legalization of recreational marijuana;

-- 70 percent favor Medicaid expansion, including 55 percent of Republicans;

-- 31 percent are willing to commit to a second term for President Donald Trump in 2020. A like number expressed support for U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s re-election that year.


Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams links hands with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (left) and Democratic congressional candidate Ayanna Pressley (right) during a rally at Clayton State University in Morrow on Tuesday. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Another statewide Georgia survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling, is the first to give us a glimpse of down-ticket races.

At the top, PPP says its survey found Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp deadlocked at 46 percent with 7 percent undecided.

If there’s one eye-popping stat in this survey by a Democratic-leaning firm, it’s this: President Donald Trump has a 50 percent approval rating in Georgia, higher than many past surveys have had him -- which indicates that Republicans in statewide races could be benefitting from a Brett Kavanaugh bump.

In the race for secretary of state, Democrat John Barrow trailed Republican Brad Raffensperger 41-43 – within the PPP poll’s 3 percentage-point margin of error. 

And both races for state Public Service Commission were tight: Democrat Lindy Miller trailed Republican Chuck Eaton 42-41, while Democrat Dawn Randolph was also 1 point behind Republican Tricia Pridemore.

One slight trend: Abrams does better among women voters than her down-ballot Democratic colleagues, but they pull more from 2016 Trump voters. Click here to see the PPP crosstabs, or scroll through them below:


A Democratic candidate trying to pry a Sandy Springs-based state House seat from Republican hands says he’s ready to accuse the Georgia GOP of outright libel.

Democrat Josh McLaurin has been the target of a string of ominous mailers citing an “ongoing criminal investigation” into his background.

McLaurin says he has hired Stacey Evans, an attorney and former Democratic candidate for governor, to demand a retraction from the Georgia GOP and “signal that we won’t stand for more of this.” 

This is an open seat, being vacated by state Rep. Wendell Williard, a Republican, and the Georgia GOP isn’t backing down. The party said the state elections board was probing whether he registered to vote in Roswell while he still lived in New York and misrepresented his residence when he declared his candidacy. 

"McLaurin is under investigation for violating two state statutes, violation of these statutes are felonies under the law, and they are crimes even if he is not prosecuted for them,” said Carmen Foskey Bergman, the party’s executive director. “I'm not sure what word to use for that type of investigation other than 'criminal'."

But here’s the thing: Secretary of State Brian Kemp, now the Republican candidate for governor, upheld McLaurin’s eligibility just days before the May 22 primary election, rejecting a challenge from former Sandy Springs city councilman (and Republican) Gabriel Sterling.

Evans said she looks forward to holding the Georgia GOP accountable.

“The truth still matters, even in politics,” she said. “The Georgia GOP’s attack mailer against Josh McLaurin is blatantly false and they know it. Not only do voters deserve to know the truth, but also the law demands it.”


Speaking of Stacey Evans: The Marietta Daily Journal notes this morning that Cobb County Commission Chairman Mike Boyce has been silent when it comes to the question of whether he’ll run for re-election in 2020.

According to the MDJ, former Cobb commissioner and state Capitol lobbyist Louie Hunter indicates that he’s interested in making a bid. And current Commissioner Bob Ott, another Republican, leaves the door open.

But acknowledging Cobb’s slow Democratic turn, the MDJ asked Evans if she were interested. Like Ott, the former Democratic candidate for governor didn’t say no.


The debate over those two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle isn’t near an end – even on the conservative side. In Tuesday’s edition of the Washington Times, Katie Tubb, a policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, had an op-ed on government loan guarantees for the only nuclear project underway in the United States. It included these lines:

Energy markets are incredibly dynamic and full of curveballs that defy political agendas. In just this past decade, the energy markets have been roiled by major, unexpected developments such as the global financial crisis, plateaued electricity demand, a tsunami-generated nuclear power plant accident in Japan, and a technology-driven plunge in oil and gas prices.

Subsidies “corrupt the data” for rational decision-making in these circumstances by masking actual costs and risks, or encouraging decisions that common sense might otherwise dissuade market participants from making.


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