U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s popularity remains steady among Georgia voters as he heads into a tough 2020 re-election, but an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll shows the first-term Republican continues to struggle with voters in densely populated metro Atlanta.
The poll also shows the favorability of Stacey Abrams, the potential Democratic challenger to Perdue with the highest profile, slipping among Georgia voters as she considers whether to run for the Senate, governor or the White House.
The new poll offers a snapshot of the state’s political landscape as Democrats focus on capturing a Georgia U.S. Senate seat for the first time since Zell Miller retired in 2004. Perdue, a former Fortune 500 chief executive, has vowed that his second term in the Senate will be his last.
The poll was conducted March 24 through Monday by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Roughly 47% of likely Georgia voters rated Perdue favorably, statistically unchanged from a similar AJC poll released in January. That’s about 7 percentage points ahead of President Donald Trump, his close ally who is also running for re-election next year.
Both Trump and Perdue are likely to face an uphill battle in Atlanta’s fast-changing northern suburbs, which punished Republican candidates in last year’s midterms. But Perdue’s campaign hopes to improve on Gov. Brian Kemp’s performance in the area, after he lost two once-reliable Republican strongholds, Cobb and Gwinnett counties, to Abrams.
The poll shows Perdue has room to grow. While regional breakdowns of the poll are less precise because of the smaller number of voters included, they provide a general picture of support. About 39% of voters in metro Atlanta — defined as Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties — approve of him. Across the state, only 25% of voters view him unfavorably, and about 28% don’t have an opinion. Many voters haven’t tuned in yet, particularly because the Democratic field remains unsettled.
“I’m happy with what I see so far,” June Sablick, a Flowery Branch hairdresser, said of Perdue and state Republicans. She’s motivated, too, by the specter of another Abrams campaign.
“I’ve never liked Stacey Abrams. I just don’t like her actions, her ways, her personality. I don’t like her overall demeanor. Everything about her is wrong,” Sablick said. “I’m just glad she’s not running right now.”
Abrams has given herself an April deadline to decide whether she’ll challenge Perdue and recently said she could wait until the fall to announce a presidential run, leading some Democrats to predict she’ll pass on a Senate bid. She’s said she’s keeping all options open.
Washington Democrats have intensified their courtship of Abrams. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that “it’s certainly not too late” for Abrams to hop into the race, and he hinted she would receive a plum assignment if she won.
“I think she’d be a great, great senator,” he said. “And I’ve told her I think she could play a major role in the Senate the minute she got here and how important it was to the country.”
Several other Democrats have also expressed interest in challenging Perdue should Abrams pass on a 2020 run. At the front of the line is former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who filed paperwork to explore a Senate bid. Other potential contenders include former 6th Congressional District candidate Jon Ossoff and state Sen. Jen Jordan.
Each would have work to do to build name recognition that approaches Abrams’. The poll showed about 45% of Georgia voters view her favorably, compared with 52% three months ago. Her unfavorable rating jumped 5 percentage points to 45%. Only about 1 in 10 voters don’t have an opinion about her.
Abrams struggled particularly with men, older voters and conservatives. And one-third of moderates gave her unfavorable reviews. But she fared best with women, minorities and voters in metro Atlanta.
One of those voters is Patricia Budd, a soon-to-be retiree in Smyrna. She was impressed by Abrams’ performance in last year’s gubernatorial race against Kemp and thinks she’d have an “excellent chance” of defeating Perdue.
“She’s smart. She’s very articulate,” Budd said. “She just really stands out.”
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