After two overtime U.S. Senate elections in 2020, the Peach State is poised for another nail-biter as Republican candidate Herschel Walker has closed the gap with Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. Georgia law stipulates a 50% requirement for victory, and with the closeness of the race, the battle may be headed for a runoff.
The latest Fox News survey of Georgia registered voters, released Wednesday, shows it roughly even, with Warnock up by just 1 point over Walker: 44% to 43%. In September, the Democrat was up by 5 percentage points; in July, he held a 4-point lead.
The contest shifts in Walker’s favor when focusing exclusively on those saying they have already voted or are certain to vote: 45% Warnock, 46% Walker. In September, it was 47-43% Warnock.
This pro-GOP movement can be attributed to Walker shoring up his base. Eighty-seven percent of Republicans back Walker, up from 82% in September. There are still doubts, however, as 10% of GOPers are undecided, voting for someone else or not voting.
By contrast, Warnock has consistently maintained support from over 9 in 10 Democrats. He also holds the advantage among independents, who back him by 47% to 17%.
Key demographics are driving each candidates’ support: Black voters, women, voters under age 45, and urban voters go for Warnock, while White evangelical Christians, men, voters ages 65 and over, and rural voters back Walker.
Also assisting the former Heisman winner is the issue of inflation. At 38%, it is the top issue to Georgians, an increase from 28% in July. And among inflation voters, Walker is ahead by 43 points. Abortion is the next priority at 18% and election integrity is third at 12% — both groups break for Warnock by at least 40 points.
More Republicans (50%) than Democrats (44%) are more enthusiastic about voting in this year’s elections than usual.
Overall, 45% are enthused, and they break for Walker by 10 points. The other half (46%) feel “the same as usual” about voting and prefer Warnock by 11 points.
Yet, more of Warnock’s supporters are voting for him enthusiastically (63%) compared to Walker’s (49%). The other half of Walker’s backers have reservations (22%) or just dislike the opposition (27%).
Voters are 7 points more likely to feel extremely concerned Walker is unqualified (38%) than that Warnock is out of touch with everyday Georgians (31%).
“The enthusiasm gap between Walker and Warnock supporters could be the difference here,” says Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, who conducts the Fox News Poll with Republican Daron Shaw. “In a razor-thin race, the side with enthusiasm should have more success getting their voters to the polls.”
In the gubernatorial race, positive approval ratings help incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp maintain his advantage over Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams but don’t get him above 50% in vote preference.
Kemp is up 6 points over Abrams (49% to 43%), about the same as last month (50% to 43%).
Fifty-seven percent approve of the job Kemp is doing as governor, yet only 82% of those back him for re-election. Twelve percent defect to Abrams.
Among those saying they’re certain to vote or already have, the race remains relatively the same (50% Kemp, 43% Abrams).
Eight percent are undecided, would vote for someone else or not vote at all.
Abrams supporters (69%) are slightly more enthusiastic about her than Kemp’s (64%).
Both candidates enjoy unified support among their party’s base (92% of Democrats for Abrams, 94% of Republicans for Kemp), while independents break for Abrams by 20 points (45-25%).
“The question in Georgia is whether we’ll see split-ticket or straight-ticket voting,” says Shaw. “If Republicans voting for Kemp swallow their reservations and back Walker, the GOP is likely to sweep the top races. If not, Warnock could well be re-elected.”
Conducted October 26-30, 2022, under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), this Fox News Poll includes telephone interviews (landline and cellphone) with live interviewers among 1,002 Georgia voters, randomly selected from a statewide voter file. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters.