An early poll of Georgia’s twin Senate runoffs shows tight races

(FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) David Perdue, Jon Ossoff, Kelly Loeffler, and Raphael Warnock  Credit: Associated Press / AJC

(FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) David Perdue, Jon Ossoff, Kelly Loeffler, and Raphael Warnock Credit: Associated Press / AJC

A poll conducted by a Republican-leaning national firm shows neither political party with a clear advantage in the twin January runoffs that are likely to decide control of the U.S. Senate.

The poll showed Kelly Loeffler at 49% of the vote compared to Democrat Raphael Warnock’s 48% showing – within the margin of error of 2.6 percentage points. About 3% were undecided.

In the other race, U.S. Sen. David Perdue had a 50-46 lead over Democrat Jon Ossoff, echoing the results of the November election when the Republican fell just under the majority-vote mark he needed to win outright. About 4% of Georgians were undecided.

It’s the first major publicly-released poll of the dual Jan. 5 runoffs, which are fast heating up. TV ads are already filling the airwaves, candidates are staging rallies, big-name politicians are headed to Georgia and outside groups are preparing to spend gobs of money.

FILE - Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) wait to greet President Donald Trump as he exits Air Force One in Atlanta, Sept. 25, 2020. Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden remain locked in a tight race in Georgia, and the state’s two Senate seats, which are both up for grabs, are competitive, according to a poll of state voters released Friday. (Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times)

Credit: New York Times

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Credit: New York Times

It was conducted by Kansas City-based Remington Research Group between Nov. 8-9 and involved 1,450 likely runoff election voters. The margin of error was 2.6 percentage points.

“This is going to be 100% start to finish a base turnout election,” said Titus Bond, the president of the group. “It’s going to be intensified. It’s going to be ideology from beginning to end. It’s all about getting the base motivated to vote again.”

Among the other findings:

· Each of the candidates have roughly equal favorable and unfavorable ratings – with the exception of Warnock, who had a 49% favorable and 38% unfavorable.

There’s an explanation for that: Warnock skated by largely untouched during the first phase of the election, as Loeffler and fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins tore down each other. With Republicans now free to focus their fire on Warnock, that could soon change.

“Warnock didn’t take much heat in the general election because of the dynamics of that race,” said Bond. “And it looks like Republicans are quickly falling behind Loeffler.”

· Not surprisingly, Democrats had the edge in metro Atlanta while Republicans led by roughly 20 percentage points in other parts of the state. There was a roughly double-digit gender gap, too, with women favoring Democrats and men backing the Republicans.

· The rival candidates have largely consolidated support from their core supporters, but independent voters – a bloc that once voted reliably Republican in Georgia – are roughly evenly split.