AJC poll: Trump leads Biden in pivotal Georgia

President Joe Biden trails former President Donald Trump in a head-to-head rematch in Georgia, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll of registered voters that shows the Republican with a solid 45% to 37% lead over the Democratic incumbent.

The poll showed nearly 20% of Georgians weren’t ready to support either candidate as the presidential race shifts from Iowa after Trump’s dominant victory Monday in the first nominating contest of the 2024 election cycle.

Biden is hurt by soft support among many Democratic and independent voters who were crucial to his narrow 2020 victory over Trump in Georgia, including 10% of Black voters who say they don’t plan to vote in the White House race at all.

Compounding Biden’s struggles in Georgia are his low approval ratings. About 62% of registered voters are critical of the president’s job performance, and a slim majority say they “strongly disapprove” of the Democrat.

The president’s backing among independents is dismal, with only 37% giving him favorable reviews compared with 54% who disapprove of his performance. And Black voters, the party’s most loyal constituency, are split over his handling of the nation’s top office.

Trump faces his own challenges in a state where he has gone to war with Republican incumbents who refused his demands to overturn the election results in 2020. Nearly one-fifth of Republicans say they don’t plan on supporting Trump’s comeback or are undecided.

The poll was conducted Jan. 3-11 by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs and involved 1,007 registered voters. The margin of error is 3.1 percentage points.

The AJC’s November poll on the presidential race and national issues showed Trump and Biden essentially tied, with Trump at 45% and Biden at 44%. That poll, however, was of voters who had a history of voting and said they intend to vote in November. It would not have captured Georgians who said they won’t vote this year.

‘Threat to democracy’

As the race shifts to next week’s primary in New Hampshire, the findings underscore how dissatisfied voters would be with a prospective rematch. Some 6% of voters are undecided, 6% say they won’t vote and 7% will vote for a third-party candidate.

“Aren’t we all tired of voting for the lesser of two evils?” said Joel Krieger of Dunwoody, who is backing environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s long shot independent bid.

Krieger reluctantly voted for Biden over Trump in 2020 and said he now regrets his decision. He views Kennedy, a vaccine skeptic who promises to rid Washington of corruption, as a “once-in-a-lifetime chance” to shake up the nation’s highest office.

Likewise, Andrew Harper of Ben Hill County said if Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t win the GOP nomination, he would probably write in another contender.

“I don’t believe either candidate is qualified or meets what we need to be president,” the accounting supervisor said.

Even those who have made up their minds often say they still have reservations. Bob Monett, 75, said he’d be the first to admit Trump is “rough around the edges.” But he worries that Biden is viewed as weak on the world stage and that Trump is “what we need to protect our interest.”

Bobbi Haley, a Cobb County attorney, said she is begrudgingly backing Biden because she sees Trump as a “threat to democracy” after he spent much of the past four years spreading lies about election fraud.

“Biden is a terrible candidate,” she said. “But I think the Democratic Party is going to use this threat of the worst of two evils to put up whoever they want, probably for as long as Trump is available to run a second term.”

A new Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll shows Gov. Brian Kemp with a favorable rating of about 57%, including the support of about 40% or Democrats and about 40% of Black voters who responded to the survey. (Arvin Temkar/arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

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Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Georgians have a more positive image of Gov. Brian Kemp, who is entering the second year of a second term after scuttling Trump’s effort to torpedo his reelection chances.

About 57% of Georgia voters approve of his job performance, down slightly from this time last year. He has high marks among fellow Republicans (74%) and independents (52%). And, surprisingly, about 40% of Democrats and about 40% of Black voters view him positively.

Voters are divided over the Republican-led U.S. House’s attempts to impeach Biden. About 46% of Georgia voters support the idea, including nearly 80% of Republicans. And 45% of Georgians oppose it, including 80% of Democrats. About 10% have no opinion.


A deep sense of pessimism about the nation’s future could also help shape the election. Nearly three-quarters of registered voters say they think the U.S. is headed down the “wrong track” while only 15% believe the nation is going in the right direction.

The dark view is pervasive, cutting across socioeconomic and racial lines, though younger, more conservative voters tend to have a more negative perspective on the country’s future. Democrats, meanwhile, have a slightly more positive attitude, with roughly one-third saying the nation is on the right track and half with a negative outlook.

“I don’t want to sound so negative, but I don’t see a bright future right now,” said Dana Holbrook of Cobb County, who worries about inequities in housing and inflation. “I’m hoping for the best, but I’m a realist. I don’t see things getting better.”

And declining inflation and other improvements in the national economy have yet to make an impression on many Georgians.

A slim majority of Georgia voters say they think the strength of the economy will be worse in a year than it is now. Democrats are more optimistic (55%), while Republicans are generally more cynical, with 61% worrying the economy will be worse in a year.

Georgians are slightly sunnier about the state’s future but still worried. They are split on whether the state is headed down the right path, with 43% worried the state is on the “wrong track” and 38% who feel Georgia is moving in a positive direction.

“The cost of living is outrageous. I’m blessed to have a great job and a steady financial situation,” said Haley, the attorney. “But the fact of the matter is, I think most of the country is hurting.”