Kemp edges Perdue in Georgia GOP gubernatorial primary; Walker running away with Senate nomination: poll

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A new poll in the battleground state of Georgia points to highly contested general election showdowns for governor and the Senate this November, as Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock run for reelection.

And a Quinnipiac University survey released on Wednesday also indicates Kemp holding a single digit edge over his main challenger in an increasingly divisive Republican primary, former Sen. David Perdue, who enjoys the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. 

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And the poll also suggests that former professional and college football star running back Herschel Walker, who’s also backed by Trump, is currently the overwhelming front-runner in the state’s Republican Senate primary.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia formally launches his 2022 reelection campaign at a kick-off event in Perry, Georgia, on July 10, 2021

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia formally launches his 2022 reelection campaign at a kick-off event in Perry, Georgia, on July 10, 2021 (Brian Kemp 2022 reelection campaign)

According to the poll, Georgia’s conservative governor is supported by 43% of likely Republican primary voters, with 36% backing Perdue and former state lawmaker Vernon Jones, a Democrat turned Republican who was one of Trump’s top Black surrogates in Georgia in the 2020 White House race, at 10%. The other candidates all polled in the lower single digits, with five percent undecided.

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Four years ago, with the support of Trump, Kemp narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams to win the governorship. But Kemp earned Trump’s ire starting in late 2020, after certified now President Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia in presidential election, following two recounts of the vote. Trump, who had unsuccessfully urged Kemp and other top Republican officials in the state to overturn the results, has repeatedly vowed to return to Georgia to campaign against Kemp. Trump for months urged Perdue to primary challenge the governor, and he endorsed Perdue a day after the former senator launched his bid.

Then-Sen. David Perdue speaks at a campaign event on December 17, 2020 in Columbus, Georgia.  (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

Then-Sen. David Perdue speaks at a campaign event on December 17, 2020 in Columbus, Georgia.  (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images) ((Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images))

Abrams, a former Democratic leader in the state legislature and a voting rights champion who’s become a rising star in the Democratic Party, faces nomination primary opposition as she runs a second straight time for governor.

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In a hypothetical general election matchup, the poll suggests Kemp with a razor-thin 49%-47% edge over Abrams among registered voters, with Perdue and Abrams tied at 48% in a potential November showdown.

Stacey Abrams speaks during the 2021 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala on December 09, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)

Stacey Abrams speaks during the 2021 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala on December 09, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights) (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)

"With former Senator Perdue and current Governor Kemp doing verbal battle, Stacey Abrams, so close in 2018, is running neck and neck with both potential opponents, positioning herself once again to possibly become Georgia’s first African American governor," Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy said.

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The poll indicates Walker - who won college football’s Heisman Trophy and helped propel the University of Georgia to a national championship in the 1980 season, its last until this month – at 81% support among likely GOP primary voters. Georgia Agriculture commissioner Gary Black was a distant second at 6%, U.S. Air Force veteran and businessman Kelvin King at 2%,  everyone else in the race at 1% or less, and 8% undecided.

Former college football star and senatorial candidate Herschel Walker speaks at a rally, as former  President Donald Trump applauds, in Perry, Georgia, U.S. September 25, 2021. REUTERS/Dustin Chambers

Former college football star and senatorial candidate Herschel Walker speaks at a rally, as former  President Donald Trump applauds, in Perry, Georgia, U.S. September 25, 2021. REUTERS/Dustin Chambers (Reuters)

In a likely general election showdown in what would be one of the most expensive and consequential Senate races in the country that could ultimately decide which party controls the chamber’s majority, the poll indicates Walker at 49% and Warnock at 48% among registered voters.

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The poll also indicates that half of Republican primary voters say Trump’s endorsement of a candidate doesn’t make a difference to their vote, with 44% saying they’d be more likely to vote for that candidate and 5% saying the former president’s backing would make them less likely to vote for that candidate.

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., arrives for the Senate Democrats weekly policy lunch at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 15, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., arrives for the Senate Democrats weekly policy lunch at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 15, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

According to the survey, Kemp’s approval as governor among all voters stands at 42%, with 49% disapproving. Warnock stands at 47%-40% and President Biden is well underwater, at 36%-59%.

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The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted Jan. 19-24, with 1,702 registered voters in Georgia, including 666 likely Republican primary voters. The poll’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for likely GOP primary voters.

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