Caption: February 4, 2020 - Atlanta - Gov. Brian Kemp announced legislation Tuesday to “reduce high-stakes K-12 testing in Georgia.” Kemp and state school Superintendent Richard Woods traveled the state over the summer taking with teachers and parents about the number of tests Georiga's students teach each year, which they say is too many.
Photo: Bob Andres,
Photo: Bob Andres,

UGA poll: Georgians back Kemp’s teacher pay hike

A University of Georgia poll released Tuesday showed voters overwhelmingly support Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan to hike teacher pay this year even if it meant raising taxes or cutting other spending.

The poll found that 88% of voters back the governor’s proposal to raise teacher pay by $2,000 this year, and that roughly three-quarters of those supporters would still back the plan if it meant hiking taxes or cutting other parts of the budget.

The poll’s release comes as state lawmakers prepare to vote on Kemp’s plan to cut $200 million from this year’s budget, which reduces spending from some areas while funding the governor’s priorities such as his teacher pay raise and his effort to combat gang violence. 

The poll was conducted by UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs from Feb. 2-14 and included 922 registered Georgia voters. The margin of error is 3.2 percentage points. 

MORE: See the crosstabs here.

It’s the same polling outfit that has conducted previous Atlanta Journal-Constitution polls, most recently in January, though this one wasn’t commissioned by the newspaper. 

About 47% of Georgia voters in the poll approved of Trump’s job performance, with about 97% of Republicans backing him. The 50% of voters who disapprove includes nearly three-quarters of independents and about 91% of Democrats. 

The numbers dipped slightly from the AJC’s January poll, which showed about 51% of voters approve of his job performance.

Kemp’s approval rating dropped, too, from 60% in the January poll to about 54% in February. About 58% of Democrats gave him negative reviews, while roughly one-third of independents and 86% of Republicans approved of his performance. 

Candidates for Georgia U.S. Senate in 2020. From left to right: U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville; U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rev. Raphael Warnock of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church.

It found that new U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, whom Kemp appointed to the job in December, is on roughly equal footing as one of her main November rivals, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins. 

About one-third of voters had favorable opinions of both Republicans, and 40% said they didn’t know. Collins, a four-term congressman, had a slightly higher approval rating among Republicans than Loeffler, a political newcomer who has already financed the first volleys of ads to introduce her to voters. 

It was a boost for Loeffler, whose favorability ratings in January lagged roughly 12 percentage points behind Collins.

The most prominent Democratic candidate in the race, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, is still largely unknown to Georgians. About one-fifth of voters had a favorable impression of him and roughly the same proportion had a negative view. 

Nearly two-thirds didn’t know enough about the pastor, who entered the race two weeks ago, to form an opinion. That includes more than half of Democrats and independents and three in four Republicans. 

In Georgia’s other Senate race, Republican David Perdue’s approval rating was pegged at 48%, including three-quarters of Republicans. Another one-fifth of GOP voters didn’t know, while 60% of Democrats gave him a negative review. None of his Democratic rivals were polled. 

Other findings:

  • About 52% of voters support keeping in place lucrative tax breaks designed for the film industry. Republicans are evenly split over the idea, but independents are overwhelmingly in favor.
  • Most Georgians oppose keeping a tax break on jet fuel worth about $35 million a year designed to help Delta Air Lines and other aviation firms with substantial operations in the state.
  • A slim majority of Georgians (54%) are aware that Georgia will put a new voting system in place in 2020, while a plurality (44%) says that voter fraud is the biggest threat to elections in the state. 
  • About 57% of Georgians say they prefer Chick-fil-A over other chicken restaurants, topping Zaxby’s (19%) and Popeye’s (14%). Chick-fil-A’s support was strongest among Republicans, with 70%, and dipped to 46% among Democrats.

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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.