BERNARD COLUMN: Just the beginning of another fun election season in Georgia

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, March 8, 2022

By Jack Bernard
Bernard is a retired corporate executive

In 2016, Stacey Abrams ran against then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp. While Kemp was Secretary of State, he purged over a half-million voters from the rolls. Those voters who were deleted were disproportionally minority.

Abrams lost that election by 1% of the vote. She called Kemp out for his dirty tactics and promised that she would do everything in her power to register Democratic voters, especially minority voters. And she has done so.

In that vein, it surprised me that she does not have a significant lead over Kemp in polling. A Quinnipiac November poll had her losing to Kemp 49% to 47% (https://poll.qu.edu/poll ). If Perdue gets the nomination, it’s a dead heat.

Despite her national prominence, Abrams does not have a very positive image among Georgia voters. Only 44% view her positively, while 45% are negative. However, only 36% of those polled have a positive view of Kemp and only 37% for Perdue. So, she is relatively popular versus her opponents. And that is important, especially with President Joe Biden’s ratings at an all-time low.

Further, only 42% of voters believe Kemp is doing a good job, as opposed to 49% saying that he’s failing. That’s better than what they say about Biden (36% positive and 59% negative). On the other hand, it’s nothing to brag about.  The question Abrams faces is “how can I motivate my supporters while getting the more moderate swing voters?”

The big issues as identified by those polled include inflation, election laws, covid and crime. GOP voters emphasize inflation while Democrats are far more concerned about election laws.

That should be fairly obvious to most of us. As stated, one key to Abrams getting elected is motivating the non-affiliated independents to vote for her. This group believes inflation to be the biggest issue, followed by election laws and crime.   It’s significant that 60% of independents believe that it will be easy to vote in 2022. So, pushing that issue may get Abrams liberal supporters out, which is important. However, it will not help with the independents. She can hit crime, as NYC Mayor Adams did. But he was an NYPD officer and had credibility in that area. In that she can do little about inflation … and Biden and the Democrats are being successfully painted as having caused it … Abrams is facing a hard time in the General Election.

The Senate race is also becoming more interesting as time goes on. Senator Raphael Warnock has a likeable personality, which comes through in his ads and is a relatively popular figure. He has a job approval rate of 47% versus only 40% disapproving. 

However, in a race between likely GOP candidate Herschel Walker and Warnock, he doesn’t do nearly as well as one would expect. It’s a dead heat, Walker with 49 percent and Warnock 48 percent.

On the other hand, 30% of voters indicate that they don’t know much about Walker’s politics. A lot will depend on how well Warnock can paint Walker into a corner, which may actually be made easier by Walker’s endorsement by former President Trump, who is not liked by independent suburban Atlanta voters. And how well Walker presents himself in the primary and election.

We still have a while until November. The fun is just beginning.