October 25, 2018
NBC News/Marist Poll Results and Analysis of Georgia
With distinct racial, gender, and age divides underscoring opinions in the Georgia electorate, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have the advantage on the generic congressional ballot question. This schism is reflected in the state’s governor’s race where Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams are in a statistical dead heat. Enthusiasm for the midterm elections is high in the Peach State where 50% of voters say their vote for Congress will send the message that more Democrats are needed to be a check and balance on the power of President Donald Trump. Still, a notable 42% of the state’s voters hope to send more Republicans to Washington to help the president pass his agenda.
46% of Georgia voters prefer a Congress controlled by the Republicans while 45% prefer a Congress controlled by the Democrats. Nine percent are unsure. Partisan allegiances are intact. 98% of Republicans report they want a Congress controlled by the Republicans while 92% of Democrats say they want their own party in control. A plurality of independents (43%) prefer a Democratic controlled Congress, and 38% want control to remain with Republicans. 19% of independents are unsure.
White voters (63%), especially white men without a college degree (74%), men overall (53%), and voters 45 years of age or older (50%) favor a Republican Congress. African Americans (75%), women (49%), and voters younger than 45 (49%) prefer a Congress controlled by Democrats.
“The pressure cooker is set to high in Georgia as the midterms approach,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Divisions are very pronounced which makes it hard for either party to count on an advantage in down ballot races.”
On the generic congressional ballot question, voters similarly divide. 47% of voters report they are more likely to vote for the Democrat in their district while 46% say they are more likely to support the Republican. Five percent are undecided. Independents bolster the Democrats. A plurality of independents (47%) report they favor the Democrat on the ballot, and 38% support the Republican.
Again, a wide gender gap (24 points) exists. A majority of men (53%) are likely to support the Republican in their congressional district while a majority of women (53%) are likely to support the Democrat on the ballot. Looking at age, a majority of those under 45 years old (52%) are for the Democrat while half of those 45 or older back the Republican. A racial divide also exists. White voters (64%) favor the Republican and African Americans (82%) support the Democrat.
Overall, most voters (80%), including 86% of Democrats, 84% of Republicans, and 72% of independents, say this year’s midterm elections are very important.
One in four Georgia voters (25%) say the issue most important in deciding their vote for Congress is the economy and jobs. Health care follows with 22%. One in three Democrats (33%) report health care is their top voting issue while 29% of independents and 28% of Republicans say the economy and jobs will most influence their decision.
The president’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court is a voting issue for more than seven in ten Georgia voters. 36% of voters, including 77% of Republicans, say they are more likely to support a candidate who favored the Kavanaugh appointment. An identical 36%, including 70% of Democrats, say they are more likely to back a candidate who opposed the nomination. 25% say it makes no difference to their vote. Among independents, 38% are more likely to vote for a candidate who opposed the Kavanaugh nomination. 26% favor a candidate who backed the nomination, and 33% of independents say the nomination will not impact their vote for Congress.
In the contest to replace term-limited Governor Nathan Deal, Republican Brian Kemp (46%) and Democrat Stacey Abrams (45%) are very competitive among likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate or have already voted. Libertarian candidate Ted Metz receives 4% of the vote, and 4% are undecided. Democrats (96%) are squarely in Abrams’ corner while Republicans are squarely in Kemp’s camp (94%). More independents back Abrams, 46% to 36% for Kemp. There is a 29 point gender gap. Men favor Kemp by a net +16. Women favor Abrams by a net +13.
Among registered voters, Abrams has the support of 46% and Kemp receives 44%. Four percent back the Libertarian candidate Metz, and 6% are undecided.
“With the political environment in Georgia so divided, it is not surprising that the contest for governor is a tossup,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Persuadable voters are only in single digits making it unlikely Kemp or Abrams will end up with a commanding lead going into Election Day.”
Among those with a candidate preference for Georgia governor, 72% strongly support their choice. 77% of Abrams’ supporters, compared with 72% of Kemp’s supporters, say they are firmly committed to their candidate. Nine percent of likely voters are persuadable in this contest, that is, they are undecided or have a candidate preference but say they may vote differently.
In just a head-to-head matchup without the Libertarian candidate, Kemp (49%) and Abrams (47%) are still very competitive among likely voters in Georgia.
A plurality of Georgia likely voters (48%) have a favorable opinion of Abrams. 40% have an unfavorable view of her, and 12% have either never heard of Abrams or are unsure how to rate her. 46% of likely voters have a positive impression of Kemp while 41% do not. 12% of likely voters have either never heard of Kemp or are unsure how to rate him.
Georgia residents divide about the job performance of President Trump. 46% approve of the job he is doing in office including 33% who strongly have this view. 45% of Georgians disapprove including 34% who strongly disapprove. Eight percent are unsure. Among likely voters, nearly half (49%) approve of the job Trump is doing as president and 45% disapprove.