Monmouth poll: Biden, Trump deadlocked in Georgia; tight US Senate races

Also shows most Georgia voters back mask requirements

President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden are deadlocked in Georgia in a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday – the latest in a string of surveys that shows the state is up for grabs in November.

The poll pegs both Biden and Trump at 47% of support from registered voters. About 3% say they’ll vote for Libertarian Jo Jorgensen and just 3% say they are undecided. The poll, conducted between July 23-27, has a margin of error at 4.9 percentage points.

See the findings here.

It showed close races in Georgia’s two U.S. Senate contests. Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue held a 49-43 lead over Democrat Jon Ossoff. Libertarian Shane Hazel logged 1% of the vote and 7% were undecided.

In Georgia’s other U.S. Senate race, the free-for-all special election for U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s seat, showed the Republican incumbent with a narrow advantage. Loeffler led the pack with 26% of support, followed by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins at 20%.

Matt Lieberman was the top Democrat with 14% of the vote, trailed by Raphael Warnock at 9% and Ed Tarver at 5%. Libertarian Brian Slowinski netted 3% and other candidates got 5%. Another 18% of voters are undecided.

That contest will feature 21 candidates all on the same ballot with no primary to filter out nominees. If no candidate gets a majority of the vote – a highly likely scenario – the two top finishers head to a January runoff.

Nearly two-thirds of Georgia voters – 63% – say individual cities should be allowed to establish face mask rules that are stricter than statewide regulations. That issue is at the center of a lawsuit by Gov. Brian Kemp seeking to block Atlanta and other cities from enforcing mask mandates.

A broad majority of voters – 79% – approve of requiring people to wear masks indoors in public spaces when they come within six feet of other people, and 63% back a similar mandate outdoors. Overall, voters give Kemp higher marks on his coronavirus strategy, with 54% approving his approach and 45% disapproving.

Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, meanwhile, has closely divided Georgians. A narrow majority of voters – 51% – said the president has done a poor job of responding to the crisis, while 48% approved of his approach.

Republicans have carried Georgia in every presidential contest since 1996, including Trump’s 5-point victory in 2016, but Democrats have steadily narrowed the gap and Biden’s campaign this week announced a slate of new hires to boost his candidacy in the state.

“There is a lot of parity between the two candidates,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “Trump has a lock on his base, but Biden is performing much better than Clinton did in key swing areas.”

Other findings:

· About 45% of Georgia voters say the state should erect a statue or another prominent monument to the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, while 37% disagree. A majority of voters - 53% - have a favorable opinion of the civil rights icon, who died earlier this month, and just 8% have an unfavorable view of him. Another 38% have no opinion.

· The poll found Biden and Trump performed very strongly among their party bases, while the Democrat led 53-31 among independents. Trump led Biden with white voters without a college degree by a 73-22 and held a 59-36 advantage among white college graduates.

· Biden performed particularly well in 14 counties where the vote margins were closest in the 2016 election. He led 58-38 among registered voters in these counties, which include the metro Atlanta suburbs of Cobb and Gwinnett. Both candidates have solid margins in counties their parties handily won four years ago.

· About 37% of Georgians say voter fraud is a “major problem” and about one-third say it’s a minor issue. Republicans (47%) are more likely than Democrats (28%) and independents (34%) to see voter fraud as a major concern, while Democrats (69%) and independents (52%) are more likely than Republicans (25%) to see voter disenfranchisement as a major concern.

· While just 7% of Georgia voters report usually voting by mail, over 4 in 10 say they are either very (26%) or somewhat (17%) likely to do so in November. Democrats (60%) and independents (46%) are more likely than Republicans (28%) to indicate they will vote by mail this fall.