AJC Poll: Georgians narrowly back Biden, but state remains polarized on many issues

A new Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll of registered voters shows about 51% of respondents either strongly approve or somewhat approve of President Joe Biden's job performance. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
A new Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll of registered voters shows about 51% of respondents either strongly approve or somewhat approve of President Joe Biden's job performance. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Six months after the 2020 elections, a new poll suggests Georgians like the way President Joe Biden is responding to the coronavirus pandemic, but they are more divided on his economic proposals and the way he’s addressing immigration.

A majority of those who responded to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s most recent poll back Biden’s coronavirus stimulus plan approved earlier this year but are split on his $2 trillion infrastructure proposal and whether to raise corporate taxes to pay for it.

Overall, only 38% of Georgians think the country is on the right track; 52% say it’s on the wrong one. The rest aren’t sure.

The poll results reflect sharp partisan divisions in the state, with Democrats more likely to support Biden and his policies and Republicans taking the opposite stance.

ExploreInteractive: Complete poll results
ExploreFAQ: About the AJC’s spring 2021 poll

Atlanta resident Christopher Macken said he voted for the Democratic ticket in 2020 after years of identifying as a Republican. He gave Biden high marks in every category and believes the new president has restored a sense of calm.

“I don’t agree with 100% of his policy, but I do feel as though he is taking into consideration the current climate where the economy and jobs are concerned and at the same time taking proactive steps to make sure we are growing the workforce down the road,” Macken said.

The poll was conducted April 20 through May 3 by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs. It questioned 844 registered voters and has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

Chuck Studebaker, who lives in Lilburn, was out of work for several months but collected unemployment from the state with a boost in funds from Congress to help those affected by pandemic shutdowns. He wished the most recent stimulus bill had been approved more quickly but doesn’t blame Biden.

“The partisanship kept us from helping people last year,” he said.

Studebaker agrees that Congress should pass another bill to provide funding for transportation and infrastructure projects, but he worries it will include unnecessary spending.

“If we need to fix bridges, fix the bridges,” he said. “If we need to fix roads, fix the roads. Stop trying to create a social program out of a roads program. If all it’s going to do is pay for someone sitting at home while other people are working, then I’ve got a problem.”

Gov. Brian Kemp’s job approval has inched up from the last time the AJC conducted polling. It was 42% in January and 45% most recently, although the difference may not be statistically significant since it’s within the margin of error. In January 2020, 59% of registered voters said they approved of the job he was doing.

The first-term Republican governor’s political standing has been damaged after former President Donald Trump directly blamed Kemp and other state officials for his narrow election defeat in November. Since then, Kemp has tried to shore up his support with conservatives by signing a new election overhaul that includes voting restrictions, but some GOP activists still say they will oppose his reelection bid and several county Republican parties passed resolutions to “censure” him.

Notably, 21% of Republicans gave Kemp an unfavorable rating. Kemp is seen favorably by 44% of Georgia voters overall. Stacey Abrams, who is widely expected to launch a rematch against him in the 2022 governor’s race, was seen favorably by 48%, the poll found.

David Titus, a former Columbia County commissioner and retired U.S. Army veteran who lives in Merrill, said Kemp’s first term has been a mixed bag.

“Some of what he’s done is very good, but he’s been victimized by circumstances,” Titus said. “And the circumstances are very hard for him to come out smelling like a rose. He had some challenges along the way, but he’s prevailed. Not everybody is happy.”

Voters are also split on how they see Georgia’s two new senators, with Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock each getting favorable marks from about 48% of voters.

In January’s poll, 40% of respondents said they approved of how then-President Donald Trump was doing his job and 57% disapproved. Now that he is out of office, 45% of people said they viewed him favorably, compared with 50% who have an unfavorable opinion.

Trump remains extremely popular among Republicans; 87% of them view him favorably.

Nick Knight, who lives in Barrow County, says he still considers Trump the head of the Republican Party and would be more inclined to support candidates that receive the former president’s endorsement.

“I feel like he is a strong leader,” Knight said. “He says whatever everybody is thinking and what nobody wants to say.”

AJC poll

The poll was conducted April 20-May 3 for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs. It questioned 844 registered voters and has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

Do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove or strongly disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president?

Strongly approve — 28%

Somewhat approve — 23%

Somewhat disapprove — 9%

Strongly disapprove — 37%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 4%

Do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove or strongly disapprove of the way Biden is handling the coronavirus pandemic?

Strongly approve — 40%

Somewhat approve — 21%

Somewhat disapprove — 10%

Strongly disapprove — 24%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 5%

Do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove or strongly disapprove of the way Biden is handling the economy?

Strongly approve — 28%

Somewhat approve — 21%

Somewhat disapprove — 11%

Strongly disapprove — 36%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 4%

Do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove or strongly disapprove of the way Biden is handling immigration?

Strongly approve — 15%

Somewhat approve — 21%

Somewhat disapprove — 11%

Strongly disapprove — 43%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 10%

Do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the way Brian Kemp is handling his job as governor?

Strongly approve — 14%

Somewhat approve — 30%

Somewhat disapprove — 20%

Strongly disapprove — 29%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 7%

All in all, do you think things in the nation are generally headed in the right direction, or do you think things are off on the wrong track?

Headed in the right direction — 38%

On the wrong track — 52%

Mixed — 9%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 1%

Congress recently passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Do you support or oppose this plan?

Strongly support — 35%

Somewhat support — 24%

Somewhat oppose — 11%

Strongly oppose — 24%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 6%

The Biden administration is putting together a $2 trillion infrastructure plan to address a variety of priorities. Do you support or oppose Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan?

Strongly support — 35%

Somewhat support — 16%

Somewhat oppose — 7%

Strongly oppose — 31%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 11%

Biden has proposed funding his infrastructure plan in part by raising taxes on corporations, If the president’s infrastructure plan does include these tax increases, do you support or oppose its passage?

Strongly support — 33%

Somewhat support — 18%

Somewhat oppose — 10%

Strongly oppose — 35%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 4%

How confident are you that passing stricter gun control laws would reduce mass shootings in this country?

Very confident — 19%

Somewhat confident — 19%

Not so confident — 12%

Not confident at all — 49%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 1%

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of President Joe Biden?

Favorable — 50%

Unfavorable — 46%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 4%

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff?

Favorable — 48%

Unfavorable — 40%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 12%

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock?

Favorable — 48%

Unfavorable — 41%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 12%

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Stacey Abrams?

Favorable — 48%

Unfavorable — 45%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 7%

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Gov. Brian Kemp?

Favorable — 44%

Unfavorable — 47%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 9%

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Donald Trump?

Favorable — 45%

Unfavorable — 50%

Don’t know; refused to answer — 5%

Poll information: The survey was administered by the School of Public and International Affairs Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia. The AJC-SPIA Poll was conducted April 20-May3 and included a total of 844 registered voters in Georgia. The calculated margin of error for the total sample is +/-3.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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