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Warnock leads in Georgia Senate race, Kemp and Abrams tied for governor

A new poll shows Georgia voters are evenly divided on their choice for governor but favor the incumbent Democrat for Senate.

ATLANTA (CN) — In the contentious race for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock holds a 10-point lead over Republican challenger Herschel Walker, while incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp is neck-and-neck with Democrat Stacey Abrams, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

Warnock's 54% of voter support compared to Walker's 44% is a big leap for the senator, who trailed Walker by 1% in a January Quinnipiac poll.

The shift comes after Walker was recently been exposed for making several false claims about himself on the campaign trail.

Despite several allegations of violent threats towards women, the Trump-endorsed former football star quickly rose to Republican stardom and touted working in law enforcement during speeches. Two weeks ago, however, the Cobb County Police Department said they had no record of involvement with Walker despite his claims to the contrary.

Warnock, a senior pastor at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, became the state’s first Black senator in January 2021 runoffs, when Georgia voters elected two Democrats to the Senate for the first time in two decades.

The new Quinnipiac survey indicates that Warnock’s overall 10-point lead is fueled by a 62%-33% advantage over Walker among independent voters and higher support from women and Black voters. Walker is winning among voters over 65, men and white voters.

Forty-nine percent of Georgia voters reported a favorable opinion of Warnock, while 37% were unfavorable. The results were reversed for Walker, with only 37% of voters favoring him and 42% having an unfavorable opinion. Those with a more negative view of Walker said he is not honest, doesn't have good leadership skills and doesn't care about average Georgians. Over 50% of voters said the opposite about Warnock.

But for the state's top seat, voters are evenly divided on their choice for governor. This year's gubernatorial race is particularly competitive as Abrams faces a rematch with Kemp after losing to him in 2018.

The latest poll results show they are each backed by 48% of voters, essentially unchanged from Quinnipiac's January poll when 49% supported Kemp and 47% supported Abrams.

The slight shift in Abrams' favor could potentially be an affect of the Supreme Court's decision last week to overturn Roe V. Wade and Kemp's plans to implement a six-week abortion ban.

Abrams is outperforming Kemp with women, Black voters and young people. Kemp is winning among men, white voters and those 50 and older.

Kemp crushed his Trump-endorsed challenger, David Perdue, in the May 24 primary, a sign of the governor's strong support among Republicans. Abrams has gained national notoriety in the Democratic community for her voting rights advocacy.

"With both candidates getting positive numbers on honesty, empathy and leadership, Kemp and Abrams are in a governor's race too close to call," said Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy.

The poll also asked voters what they think is the most urgent issue currently facing Georgians. Forty-one percent said inflation, followed by gun violence at 15%, and abortion and election laws both at 10%.

Sixty-seven percent of Republicans reported inflation was their biggest concern, with no other issue reaching double digits.

Among Democrat voters, gun violence was the most prominent issue at 26%, followed by racial inequality at 18%, abortion and inflation both at 14% and election laws at 13%.

Most independents agreed with Republicans on inflation, but at only 42%, with 12% mostly concerned about gun violence, 11% with abortion and 10% for election laws.

As of last month, Atlanta had the second-highest inflation rate in the country.

"Despite the public's sorrow and outrage over guns and abortion, inflation, a phenomenon that can affect virtually every Georgian, is most concerning," said Malloy.

With Kemp recently signing a so-called constitutional carry law allowing Georgians to carry firearms without obtaining a permit, voters most concerned about gun violence are more likely to vote for Abrams. On average, 1,603 Georgians die from gun violence each year.

A majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents said they plan to vote in person at an early voting location. The general election is Nov. 8.

Results from the poll were gathered from 1,497 registered voters in Georgia who were surveyed between June 23-27.

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