Gov. Brian Kemp led Stacey Abrams 50% to 42% in the AJC poll, one of the first polls that shows the Republican incumbent north of the majority-vote mark he needs to win a second term without a runoff.
About 1% of likely voters backed a third-party candidate, and 6% were undecided.
A majority of voters — 54% — approve of how Kemp is handling his job as governor.
Some 51% of likely Georgia voters want the Republican Party to win control of Congress, while 70% say the country is on the wrong track.
And just 37% approve of President Joe Biden’s performance in office, statistically unchanged since the last AJC poll in July. While Biden’s approval rating is rebounding in some other battleground states, he remains underwater in Georgia.
‘Not a fan’
Further down the ticket, Democrats fare no better. Republican nominees for lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state had double-digit leads over their Democratic challengers. With less than 50 days until the election, there’s little time to reverse the trend.
The poll was conducted Sept. 5-16 and has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points. It’s one of the first public polls in Georgia since Biden signed a federal tax and health care measure and announced his plan to forgive student college debt.
Like other recent public polls, the AJC poll is the latest to indicate a split-ticket trend in the marquee races. About 9% of Warnock’s supporters are also backing Kemp, while an additional 5% of Kemp supporters are undecided in the Senate contest.
It reflects ongoing concerns from some in the state’s Republican base over Walker, a former football star who has a history of violent behavior and a propensity toward gaffes, lies and exaggerations on the campaign trail.
Jenna Fortner of Villa Rica has no doubt that she’ll vote for Kemp, in part because she’s worried that Abrams will continue a pattern of spending that’s gone “off the rails.” But she remains undecided about the Senate race despite concerns about the Democrat.
“I don’t have a preference in the Warnock race,” she said. “I am not a fan of Warnock because I think he’s spending too much money, but I need to do more research about Walker.”
Meanwhile, Warnock’s approval rating hasn’t budged amid a torrent of spending from his campaign promoting his maverick streak and GOP outside groups seeking to paint him as a Biden lackey. His approval has held at 47% since the AJC’s July poll.
“The way that Warnock has run, I disagree with the spending that he and all the Democrats have done,” said Cal Roach, an agricultural consultant who said he’s supporting the GOP ticket because of the “ridiculous” financial policies of the Democrats. “They’ve just opened up the floodgates.”
The rematch between Abrams and Kemp offered a different picture.
Kemp has slightly expanded on his lead over Abrams since July, thanks in part to a wide gender gap. The Republican leads Abrams among men 54% to 39%, while he and Abrams are deadlocked with women voters.
The poll also shows that Abrams needs to shore up her support among Black voters, the cornerstone of her coalition. About 80% of Black voters say they’re backing Abrams and an additional 10% support Kemp. Abrams likely needs to push her number above 90% to win in November.
The governor and other Republicans seek to tie Democrats to Biden, and the poll offers the latest indication why. Of the 51% who “strongly” disapprove of the president, some 36% are independents. And 15% of Democrats give Biden negative reviews.
While Biden’s approval ratings remained low, voters supported some of his key proposals. About 54% back his plan to cancel as much as $20,000 in college student debt for Americans earning less than $125,000 a year.
And 52% support the recently passed federal tax and health care measure that aims to combat climate change and lower the cost of prescription drugs while levying a new tax on some corporations.
Republicans had more reason to cheer down the ballot. In the race for lieutenant governor, GOP state Sen. Burt Jones led Charlie Bailey 43% to 33%, while Attorney General Chris Carr had a 10-point edge over Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan, 45% to 35%.
But the biggest gap was in the race for Georgia’s top election official. Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had 50% to 31% for Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen.
The poll showed Raffensperger with significant crossover support after defying then-President Donald Trump’s call to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. About 20% of Democrats and more than one-third of independents support Raffensperger, while 80% of Republicans are backing his reelection bid.
Staff writer Anjali Huynh contributed to this article.