New poll: Brian Kemp gaining strength while Stacey Abrams’ support in ‘holding pattern’

Kemp’s distance from Trump doesn’t hurt him with GOP base, Monmouth poll finds
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 2:05 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Voter support for incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp has increased over the past month, while support levels for challenger Stacey Abrams have remained static, according to a new Monmouth University poll.

The poll, which was conducted by telephone from Oct. 20-24, 2022, with 615 Georgia registered voters and a margin of error of plus/minus five percentage points, found only four in 10 Georgia voters see Kemp as a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump. Nearly twice as many see Abrams as a strong supporter of President Joe Biden.

Kemp’s apparent distancing from Trump does not hurt him at all with Trump’s base while it helps him somewhat with the former president’s detractors.

“Kemp’s support has clearly solidified in the past month while Abrams has been in a holding pattern,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

More than half of Georgia’s potential electorate will either definitely (44%) or probably (11%) vote to reelect Kemp in November. His definite support number increased by 10 points since September. Just over four in 10 voters will definitely (35%) or probably (8%) back Abrams, basically unchanged from last month.

Half of the voters polled have definitely ruled out voting for Abrams (50%) compared with only one-third who say the same about Kemp (35%). Kemp has a net positive personal rating of 59% favorable to 39% unfavorable, while Abrams holds a split rating of 47% favorable to 50% unfavorable.

The poll found 77% of Georgia voters say Abrams is a strong supporter of President Biden, but only 39% see Kemp as a strong supporter of Trump.

Last month, Kemp had weaker support among the Republican base than he does now: 73% definite in September compared with 86% in October. By comparison, Abrams’ definite Democratic support is an identical 83% in both polls.

Among voters who hold a favorable opinion of Trump in the current poll, there is no difference in support levels for Kemp regardless of whether they see him as a strong supporter of the former president (81% definite and 15% probable) or not (81% definite and 14% probable).

Furthermore, among voters with an unfavorable opinion of Trump, Kemp does better among those who seem him as distanced from the former president (25% definite and 9% probable) than those who see him as a strong Trump supporter (7% definite and 5% probable).

“I said last month, that some election conspiracists may be nursing a grudge against Kemp for not stepping in to overturn the 2020 result, but they were likely to come home in the end. That looks to be the case with the added bonus that Kemp distancing himself from Trump is a plus among some independent voters,” said Murray.

Overall, 60% of voters say Kemp’s political views are in line with most Georgia residents. Less than half (44%) say the same about Abrams. Voters choose jobs, the economy and cost of living (43%) from a list of seven policy areas as the top issue on their minds in the race for governor.

Kemp (53%) has a clear advantage over Abrams (35%) on being more trusted to handle this issue. The incumbent also holds a similar issue edge on dealing with crime (52% to 34% for Abrams). The only issue among seven asked about in the poll where Abrams has a nominal lead is abortion (46% to 40% for Kemp).

The poll does not attempt to predict turnout, but past voter history metrics and self-reported motivation give a picture of a range of possible outcomes. Among voters who participated in the first matchup between these two candidates in 2018 – which was decided by just over one percentage point – more than half definitely (44%) or probably (10%) support Kemp while fewer definitely (37%) or probably (7%) support Abrams.

Support levels among “extremely motivated” voters in the current electorate show a similar advantage for Kemp (49% definite and 6% probable) over Abrams (39% definite and 5% probable).

One in four potential voters have already cast their ballots in this election. These voters back Abrams (52%) over Kemp (46%) by a narrow margin. This contrasts with Monmouth’s U.S. Senate poll released Wednesday, where Democrat Raphael Warnock (61%) had a large advantage over Republican Herschel Walker (34%) in the early vote.

Other voters who intend to vote during Georgia’s early voting period are evenly divided between Kemp (38% definite and 13% probable) and Abrams (37% definite and 12% probable). The Republican, though, has a clear edge among those who plan to vote on Election Day – 51% definite and 17% probable compared with just 21% definite and 9% probable for Abrams. Taken together, 8% of the electorate is comprised of crossover Warnock-Kemp voters, while only 1% support a split Walker-Abrams ticket.

The poll also finds that most voters express at least some confidence the Georgia election will be conducted fairly and accurately this year – 35% very confident and 40% somewhat confident. Democrats (41%) are more likely than Republicans (30%) to feel very confident about this.