The Jolt: Stacey Abrams underperforming with Black voters in AJC poll

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams speaks during a campaign rally on March 14, 2022, in Atlanta. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams speaks during a campaign rally on March 14, 2022, in Atlanta. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/TNS)

The newest AJC poll of the 2022 elections shows a possible split-ticket dynamic in Georgia this year, with GOP incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp about five points ahead of Stacey Abrams in the race for governor, and Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock with a three-point lead over Herschel Walker, which is described by pollsters as essentially a dead heat.

But one of the most troubling findings for Democrats in the AJC poll was tucked into the crosstabs of the race for governor. It showed wavering support for Stacey Abrams among the party’s most reliable constituency.

Georgia Democrats routinely capture more than 90% of the Black electorate, and Republicans often see it as a victory if they can crack double-digits with the voting bloc.

But the poll shows Abrams garnering roughly 80% of Black support. The other votes are split about evenly: About 10% back Kemp and about 8% are undecided.

It’s not ideal territory for Abrams, whose campaign to become the nation’s first Black woman elected governor hinges on motivating core supporters. It’s also a trend that Kemp’s internal poll has picked up.

That poses both a problem and an opportunity for the Democrat’s campaign. The problem, of course, is she can’t defeat Kemp without energizing the party’s most important bloc of voters. The opportunity is she can quickly make up lost ground by mobilizing Black voters.

In the other marquee race, Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock – the state’s first Black U.S. senator – has support from about 85% of Black voters. His rival Herschel Walker, who is also Black, has about 9% support from Black voters.

One possible reason for the lagging support for Democrats? Nearly one-third of Black voters disapprove of President Joe Biden’s record as president.


BIG LIE LOSING. Nestled in the latest Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll is the latest indication that Donald Trump’s election fraud lies have lost their potency in Georgia politics.

An AJC poll conducted in April found that Georgia Republicans were increasingly confident about the integrity of the election system.

The poll released Wednesday revealed another trend. About half of Georgia voters say they’re less likely to vote for candidates who say they believe the 2020 election was “stolen” from Trump, compared to just 13% who say that stance makes them more likely to back a contender.

One example is William Smith, a conservative voter from Macon who said he “cannot tolerate any Republican who holds any notion of the election being stolen.” He added that he’s even willing to vote for Stacey Abrams if Gov. Brian Kemp doesn’t take a stronger stance saying the 2020 vote wasn’t rigged.

Tellingly, a majority of Republicans – 57% – say it makes no difference to them whether a candidate promotes falsehoods about elections, and only about a quarter of GOP voters said they’d be more likely to support a candidate with those views.

That shift was clear in the May primary, when former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice and others who centered their campaigns on pro-Trump conspiracy theories were demolished by GOP incumbents who refused calls to overturn the election.


OSSOFF INVESTIGATES. Two former staffers at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary told a U.S. Senate subcommittee Tuesday about witnessing lax oversight, unsafe conditions and multiple policy violations that were often excused at the medium-security lockup, and described unironically as “the Atlanta way.”

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, who chairs the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, repeatedly told Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal “the buck stops with you” regarding the allegations of corruption and mismanagement at the Atlanta penitentiary, a detention center and a prison camp south of downtown.

While Ossoff hammered Carvajal for the ongoing issues there, Carvajal said he worked to remove problematic staff and address the cultural issues once the severity was brought to his attention.

But Ossoff and his ranking member, GOP Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, said their investigation has convinced them more should be done to reform the entire system of federal prisons.

Ossoff called the system, including a prison in Dublin, Ga. nicknamed “Rape Club,” a disgrace.

“These issues are deeper than your leadership personally,” Ossoff said. “This is clearly a diseased bureaucracy. And it speaks ill to our national values and our national spirit that we let this persist year after year and decade after decade.”



  • The Senate is scheduled to take a vote on a China competition bill that includes $52 billion to boost computer chip production and money for research and innovation. U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter have been vocal supporters of “chips” legislation.
  • Marty Daniel, the owner of Georgia-based gunmaker Daniel Defense, will testify during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the role of the firearm industry in recent gun violence.
  • The Federal Reserve Board is expected to raise interest rates again in hopes of tamping down inflation.


ABORTION LAW CHALLENGE. A group of abortion providers and pro-abortion activists have filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s new abortion restrictions, the AJC’s Maya T. Prabhu reports.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, representing abortion rights advocates and providers, said the new law violates the state right to privacy by giving prosecutors “virtually unfettered access to the medical files of anyone who seeks an abortion, without a subpoena."

SisterSong Executive Director Monica Simpson said, “SisterSong and our partners have been in the fight against Georgia's six-week abortion ban from the beginning, and today we are sending a clear message that we're not giving up."

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


BUSY DOCKET. The new challenge to the state’s restrictive abortion law has been assigned to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney.

That name will be familiar to anyone watching the Fulton County special grandy jury investigation of former President Donald Trump, which is also assigned to McBurney, as well as the 2018 “Tex” McIver murder trial, which McBurney oversaw.

The Georgia Supreme Court overturned McIver’s conviction last month and Fulton County DA Fani Willis’ office filed a motion asking McBurney to set a new trial date for McIver within 180 days.

The Harvard-educated judge (he graduated from both Harvard College and Harvard Law School) has seen both sides of the bench in Atlanta, since he was also previously an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District and an Assistant District Attorney in Fulton County.


LOUDERMILK’S J6 PLAN. U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk could get a promotion to chair the House Administration Committee, which oversees Capitol operations, if Republicans win back the House in November.

Loudermilk burst into national headlines earlier this year after the January 6 committee released photos of a constituent tour he led on January 5, which included at least one man who taped threats against members of Congress on Jan. 6.

The congressman told the Marietta Daily Journal this week he thinks some members of the J6 committee may have violated House rules during the episode-- and he has his own plan in mind if he takes over the gavel, including his own investigation into January 6.

“Rank and file members like myself had no idea that there were active threats of violence for Jan. 6," he said. “The FBI knew it, intelligence community knew it, the White House knew it, and apparently the Speaker knew it … and the fact that they knew that there were legitimate security concerns for Jan. 6, but no one took action to prepare for it, that's a serious concern."

- The Marietta Daily Journal


EARMARK THIS. If any projects in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District receive targeted federal funding in the near future, the north Georgia residents will have only their Democratic senators to thank for them-- since U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has refused to request earmarks for her district.

The Rome News Tribune lists the many projects the senators have requested funding for, including the demolition of the old Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital in Rome; a mechatronics lab for Berry College; millions of dollars for a new ER in Chattooga County through Atrium Health Floyd; and equipment in Whitfield County to help detect narcotics.

In response, Greene’s office sent along a statement from the Freedom Caucus from last year calling earmarks, “the currency of corruption.”


EVERYTHING’S SK. Georgia got a shout out from President Joe Biden and SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-Won Tuesday during a virtual White House meeting between the president and the Korean manufacturing giant.

According to the White House pool report, both gentlemen pointed to SK’s multi-billion dollar investments in Georgia as an example of the Korean-American partnership that’s kickstarting a manufacturing boom in the U.S.

SK has a massive battery facility well underway in Commerce and announced plans for a huge semiconductor component factory near Covington last fall.


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