Johnson said she is tired of the campaign season mudslinging and said most voters are smart enough to see past it. Candidates should instead spend that time highlighting their platforms.
“Tell me what’s in it for me, as opposed to telling me, ‘Don’t vote for this guy because he’s a bad guy,’ ” she said.
About 1,100 Georgians responded to the survey, which was shared on ajc.com and on social media. Although the results are not scientific, they line up with the priorities identified by formal AJC polling where 87% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats said inflation and the economy are their two top issues.
Many respondents said they want candidates to be more specific about how they will solve problems.
Al Cusson, a Republican who lives in Milton, said he wants to hear candidates say how they will work to reduce prices and bring down inflation.
“When people are having to spend twice the amount of money to fill up their cars and they’re having to make decisions at the grocery store on what they’re buying because the $200 they have available will only buy two-thirds of what it would have bought a year ago, that affects everyone,” he said. “And unfortunately, it affects the people with lower incomes even more than the people with upper incomes.”
Many said they want candidates to stop bashing their opponents. And several wanted to know how candidates would work to represent their entire communities, not just those who share their political views.
Mark Navarre-Jones, a Democrat who lives in unincorporated DeKalb County, said he is tired of the viral soundbites and wants candidates to spend more time talking through their positions on the issues.
“That’s kind of my frustration right now is that I don’t feel like I get any actual sense of what the candidates are saying other than the things that I’m already seeing in their videos or in their ads,” he said.
Requiring candidates to spend more time explaining their positions, in debates or otherwise, would give voters more information as they decide who to support on the ballot, Navarre-Jones said.
“As divided as we’re becoming, I think that could help move things back together,” he said. “It can actually foster some working together rather than just yelling at each other.”
Many respondents also said that one person is talked about too much on the campaign trail: former President Donald Trump.
Karan Waid, a Republican voter who lives in Duluth, said some Republicans talk too much about Trump but the problem is worse coming from the opposing party.
“That’s all the Democrats talk about is what’s wrong with Donald Trump, who was the president and he is no longer, and they just want to blame everything on him and they’re not doing anything to help this country,” she said. “They’re causing more problems.”
In some cases, the survey answers reflected the well-known partisan differences among Georgia voters. Some respondents wanted less talk about abortion, immigration and climate change while those issues were rated highly by others. Pocketbook issues, however, were important to most.
David Saltz, an independent voter who lives in Woodstock, said he listed climate change as a top priority because he is concerned for future generations.
“I have my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter living nearby, and I really worry about the kind of future that they’re going to have,” he said. “I fear that they’re not going to enjoy the same comforts that we have enjoyed because of climate change.”
About this survey
Voters are at the heart of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s election coverage.
We talk to voters on the campaign trail, conduct polls to gauge sentiment, answer reader questions about voting, and invite Georgians to ask questions about the state of the races as part of our Politically Georgia podcast. This year we’ve taken an additional step to expand our outreach to Georgia voters to make sure we are asking the questions that are important to them.
We recently conducted an informal survey to find out what Georgians want candidates to talk about as they compete for votes. We received more than 1,100 responses, including some you can read about in this story. These responses will help us form some of the questions we are asking candidates for a voters guide the AJC is producing with the Atlanta Civic Circle. Reporters will also use these responses to help determine what questions they will ask in upcoming debates. The responses will also help us select topics for stories on the important issues in this election.