Exclusive AJC poll: Dickens edges ahead of Moore in Atlanta mayoral runoff

Atlanta mayoral runoff candidates Felicia Moore and Andre Dickens answer questions from AJC reporters. Video by Ryon Horne and Tyson Horne

Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens has a narrow lead over Council President Felicia Moore in a new poll commissioned by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News just one week before the runoff election for Atlanta mayor.

The poll, conducted Nov. 11-19 by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, showed Dickens at 42.6% and Moore at 37.2%. A significant amount of the electorate, about 20%, remains undecided.

Dickens’ lead is greater than the poll’s 3.5% margin of error, but not large enough to be considered statistically significant, said Trey Hood, the director of UGA’s Survey Research Center.

The results suggest Dickens, who finished a distant second to Moore in the Nov. 2 general election, is gaining momentum in the final days of the race.

Dickens led among women, Democrats and Black voters, while Moore was ahead with white voters, Republicans and people ages 18-29. About 58% of respondents said they have a favorable impression of Moore, while 67% gave Dickens high marks.

Moore and Dickens were the top two vote-getters in the Nov. 2 general election, with Moore taking 41% of the vote and Dickens finishing with 23%. Dickens was in the single digits in earlier polls for that race but made a late surge and picked up enough undecided voters to advance to a runoff next Tuesday.

Among poll respondents who said they had voted for former Mayor Kasim Reed, attorney Sharon Gay or Councilman Antonio Brown, Dickens leads Moore 65% to 35%.

Both candidates want to hang on to the support they received in the Nov. 2 election. Among poll respondents who said they voted for Moore, 80% said they plan to vote for her again, while 14% were switching to Dickens and 6% were undecided. About 92% of Dickens voters said they planned to stick with him, with 6% switching to Moore and 2% undecided.

“This campaign has been putting in the hard work for months now, and we are seeing the fruits of our labor,” Dickens said in a statement. “We only have one week left, and mayoral elections have been decided by less than 200 votes. We’re focused on staying the course: telling everyone to get out to vote, and to vote for Andre Dickens.”

Moore said in a statement that her campaign feels “very confident that our base across all districts of this city is holding strong and turning out to vote.”

“We’re not resting on any laurels, and we’re knocking on doors, calling and texting voters, and we’re taking every opportunity to meet people where they are, through the holiday and onto the final election day next Tuesday,” Moore said.

Local political strategist Fred Hicks said the splits along racial lines was most striking. Moore had about 23% of support from Black voters, compared to nearly 50% who preferred Dickens. Among white residents, Moore led 47% to 39%.

White voters turned out at a higher rate than Black voters in the initial election, so Moore could have an advantage if she wins over more Black voters in the next week. In the AJC’s poll, the percentage of undecided Black voters was double that of whites.

“It’s just a question of, ‘What does the turnout look like?’ ... This election’s going to come down to Black voters,” Hicks said.

City Council president and mayoral candidate Felicia Moore. (Tyson Horne/tyson.horne@ajc.com)

Credit: Tyson Horne / tyson.horne@ajc.com

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Credit: Tyson Horne / tyson.horne@ajc.com

Jandice Stewart, a 42-year-old Kirkwood resident who participated in the poll, said she voted for Dickens in the general election because she likes how he’s “kind of new to politics.”

“The more I looked into him and read his policies and a lot of the things that was standing for, I was like, ‘OK, I can work with this,’” said Stewart, who is Black.

Stewart said it feels to her like Moore is trying to appeal to Buckhead more than other parts of the city, and she said she was “ticked off” after Moore’s campaign sent her a text message that cast Dickens as anti-police.

Residents are allowed to vote in the runoff even if they did not vote in the first election. About 12% of respondents to the poll fall into that category. Among this group, the vote is split 39% for Moore, 35% for Dickens and 26% undecided.

Almost three-quarters of the electorate said they have been following the election “very closely” or “somewhat closely,” an increase from the AJC’s October poll. And crime remained the top issue for voters, with 47% identifying it as the most pressing issue facing the city. Affordable housing was second, with 21%.

City Councilman Andre Dickens at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newsroom. (Tyson Horne/tyson.horne@ajc.com)

Credit: Tyson Horne / tyson.horne@ajc.com

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Credit: Tyson Horne / tyson.horne@ajc.com

Pittsburgh neighborhood resident William King said he liked all of the three leading candidates in the general election but ended up voting for Moore because he likes how “over the years she’s challenged the establishment.”

“She came in through community activism. The others kind of came in from the top,” said King, 76, who plans to vote for the council president again in the runoff.

Early voting for the Nov. 30 runoff is open through this Wednesday.

About our poll:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in partnership with Channel 2 Action News commissioned from the University of Georgia’s School of Public & International Affairs a poll in advance of the Nov. 30 Atlanta mayoral runoff election. Here’s how the polling worked:

Conducted Nov. 11-19, pollsters spoke to 802 likely mayoral runoff voters in the City of Atlanta. Likely voters were respondents who had voted in the 2017 Atlanta mayoral election and/or the 2017 Atlanta mayoral runoff and/or the 2021 Atlanta Mayoral election, who indicated they were City of Atlanta residents who were currently registered to vote in Georgia, and were “definitely” or “probably” going to vote in the 2021 mayoral runoff election.

A statewide random sample consisting of approximately 83% cell phone numbers and 17% landline numbers was obtained through a sampling vendor that maintains a database constructed from state voter registration lists. The survey results were weighted in order to ensure the sample was representative of the 2021 mayoral runoff electorate in terms of race, sex, age, and education. The calculated margin of error for the total sample is +/-3.5 points at the 95% confidence level. That means if 50% of respondents indicate a topline view on an issue, we can be 95% confident that the population’s view on that issue is somewhere between 53.5% and 46.5%.

Head-to-head election match-up were corroborated by an outside entity before results were transmitted to the AJC. More specifically, the outside entity replicates our reported results for any head-to-head races and confirms they are the same. For this survey, the results we report for the 2021 mayoral election were verified by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA.

Results from the AJC / Channel 2 Action News poll:

Who are you going to vote for in the Nov. 30 runoff election?

Moore: 37%

Dickens: 43%

How closely have you been following news about the Atlanta mayor’s race?

Very closely: 30%

Somewhat Closely: 43%

Not very closely: 22%

Not at all: 5%

Don’t know: 1%

Which of the following is the most pressing issue currently facing the City of Atlanta?

Crime: 47%

Affordable housing: 21%

Corruption: 5%

Income inequality: 8%

Traffic/Congestion: 5%

Coronavirus: 4%

Other: 7%

Don’t know: 3%

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Felicia Moore?

Favorable: 58%

Unfavorable: 15%

Don’t know: 27%

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Andre Dickens?

Favorable: 68%

Unfavorable: 7%

Don’t know: 26%

For more poll results, please visit ajc.com