The Jolt: Hints of a gender gap between Kelly Loeffler and Doug Collins

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A New York Times/Siena College poll of Georgia voters on Tuesday is the latest in a series of statewide surveys – and on the surface told us little that was new:

-- Republican incumbent Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden were neck-and-neck at 45% each.

-- Biden had a 12-point lead among white college graduates, but Trump countered that with a 76-18% lead among white voters without a college degree.

-- In Senate race No. 1, Republican incumbent David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff are both at 43%. A four-point lead that Perdue had one month ago has disappeared.

-- And Senate race No. 2, a special election, appeared all but certain to head into a Jan. 5 runoff. Democrat Raphael Warnock was pegged at 32%, Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler at 23%, and GOP rival Doug Collins at 17%. (MOE is +/-4.1 percentage points)

The NYT/Sienna poll is different in that it includes hypothetical match-ups between Warnock and Loeffler, and Warnock and Collins. Warnock would lead both Republicans, 45-41%. That’s evidence that who would run best against the Democrat hasn’t yet become an issue on the Republican side of the contest.

But you also see hints of a gender divide when it comes to Loeffler and Collins – somewhat surprising when you consider the asymmetrical nature of their financial backing. With help from her well-heeled allies, Loeffler has had a constant TV presence, while Collins' media spending has been more sparing.

Their approval ratings are nearly identical: 42% for Collins, 41% for Loeffler, with no significant difference between men and women surveyed.

But 37% have an unfavorable impression of Loeffler, compared to 26% for Collins. That can be partially explained by familiarity – 21% didn’t know enough about Loeffler to have an opinion, while 32% said the same about Collins. But that in itself tells you that Loeffler hasn’t been able to disqualify Collins with repeated attacks.

When you break down Collins' unfavorable rating by gender, 26% are men, 27% are women. Loeffer’s unfavorables break down this way: 35% men, and 41% women.

Call that the price that Loeffler, whose appointment was intended as a friendly signal to female voters in suburbia, may be paying for her rightward shift to fend off Collins.

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Details remain scarce, but Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, will be in Atlanta on Friday.

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On Tuesday, we reported that Richard DeMillo, a Georgia Tech professor of computer science, would be part of a poll-watching team rising out of an alliance between the Libertarian Party of Georgia and the Coalition for Good Governance, a group demanding a return to paper ballots. Both groups had him on their list. DeMillo has now sent word that he has not requested nor has he received Libertarian Party credentials as a poll watcher, and is not allied with either group.

“Professor DeMillo’s name was inadvertently included as a recommended watcher for the election. CGG was unaware that he already had credentials for access through another organization,” said Marilyn Marks, the group’s executive director.

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The Cook Political Report has re-evaluated the Sixth District congressional race and deemed incumbent U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, even more likely to win in her rematch over Republican Karen Handel. The political analysis site has moved the race from “leans Democrat” to “likely Democratic.”

Meanwhile, CNN has ranked the Seventh District congressional race as the most likely nationwide to result in a flip from red to blue. The analysis puts Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, who lost in 2018 by less than 500 votes, in the driver’s seat against Republican newcomer Richard McCormick. U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, is retiring.

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Candidates for public office are increasingly turning to a relatively new way of communicating with potential voters, and it’s becoming a headache for many on the receiving end, our AJC colleague David Wickert reports:

Candidates for state and local offices and related campaigns have spent about $311,000 so far in 2020 on texting services, state records show. That’s a fraction of the tens of millions spent on other forms of voter outreach.

But it’s growing fast — 2020 spending on text messaging has surpassed spending in all previous years combined, according to records from the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. And the volume of political texts may only increase as Election Day nears.

Just ask Merrie Soltis. The Dacula resident said she gets multiple political texts a day. It’s exasperating.

“Make them stop!” Soltis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’ve already voted. Just leave me the hell alone! Why are they still texting me?”

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The left-leaning MoveOn.org organization is pumping $500,000 behind a round of ads backing Democrat Raphael Warnock’s push to oust U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

The group launched a 30-second TV ad this week as well as a minute-long radio spot casting the pastor as someone who knows that “good deeds don’t stop at the church door.”

Warnock is the Democratic frontrunner in the crowded special election contest against Loeffler, a former financial executive running to fill the remaining two years of retired U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term.

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Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian candidate for president, will be in Savannah next Wednesday. Click here for details.

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In endorsement news: Senate Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff won the support of the Alliance for Retired Americans, a group that counts about 70,000 members in Georgia, including retirees and community activists. The alliance credited Ossoff’s plans to expand health care access.

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When the Georgia General Assembly reconvenes for the 2021 session, it is possible a repeal of the citizen arrest law will be on the agenda, according to the our AJC colleague Maya T. Prabhu:

Dacula Republican state Rep. Chuck Efstration said, if reelected next month, he plans to file legislation that would get rid of the 1863 law.

His proposal would only allow business and homeowners to detain people whom they catch in the act of a crime — and then call law enforcement. Current law allows anyone who witnesses a crime or believes one has been committed to make an arrest and take that person to police.

Efstration also authored Georgia’s hate-crimes legislation that became law earlier this year, after the February killing of Ahmaud Arbery near Brunswick spurred his Republican colleagues in the Senate to action.

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