Emerson surprise: Walker edging Warnock in GA?

Source: Hot Air

It’s a surprise all right, because Emerson’s the only polling firm showing Republican challenger Herschel Walker leading at all over incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock. We’ve seen evidence today that the GOP is closing the gap in Pennsylvania, as Karen noted, and Allahpundit posted about the probability that the gap may not have existed in the first place.

That could be true in Georgia, and maybe even more so in the Peach State. So far, though, Emerson’s the only dissenting pollster picking up on it:

The latest Emerson College Polling survey of the Georgia general election finds Senator Raphael Warnock trailing his Republican opponent, Herschel Walker by two points, 44% to 46%. Four percent plan to vote for someone else and 7% are undecided. Regardless of whom they support, 53% expect the incumbent Senator Warnock to win while 47% expect Walker to win. This reflects a tightening of the race since April, when the Emerson College poll had Walker ahead 49% to 45%.

Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling said, “Walker leads Warnock among rural voters 58% to 24% while Warnock leads Walker 66% to 25% among urban voters. In the suburbs, voters are breaking for Walker by a nine-point margin, 50% to 41%.”

How much of an outlier is this? It’s the first poll showing Walker ahead at all since April — and that was also an Emerson poll. However, most of the recent polls show the race to be too close to call. A Survey USA poll that put Warnock up nine points in July could have been an outlier too, and a Quinnipiac poll in June that had Warnock up ten seemed way off even at that time. Still, even with this poll in the RCP aggregation, Warnock still has an RCP lead of 47.0/43.7 — not great for an incumbent but terrible either.

Keep in mind, though, that Emerson’s gubernatorial result falls squarely in the mainstream of other pollsters looking at Georgia:

In the gubernatorial 2018 re-match, 48% plan to support Governor Brian Kemp, 44% plan to support Stacey Abrams, 6% plan to vote for someone else, and 2% are undecided. The majority of Georgia voters (58%) expect Kemp to win whereas 42% expect Abrams to win. …

Forty-seven percent of Georgia voters have a very (30%) or somewhat (16%) favorable view of Kemp while 49% have a somewhat (12%) or very (37%) unfavorable view of Kemp. Forty-five percent have a very (38%) or somewhat (7%) favorable view of Abrams while 50% have a somewhat (5%) or very (45%) unfavorable view of Abrams.

The four-point gap almost exactly matches the RCP aggregate result in the gubernatorial rematch, 48.2/44 in Kemp’s favor. If Emerson’s results are pegging that race correctly, it may well be that Walker’s doing a little better than people think against Warnock, too. His favorables are slightly better than Warnock’s too, 50/46 vs 47/46, although Warnock’s strong-favorable results are much better, 41% to 27%.

That certainly may factor into this likely-voter result. More to Allahpundit’s point, though, can we be sure that pollsters are accurately modeling turnout in this economic environment for Joe Biden’s first midterms? Keep this in mind when answering:

President Biden holds a 42% approval among very likely Georgia voters; 57% disapprove of the job the president is doing. In a hypothetical 2024 Presidential Election between President Biden and former President Trump, Trump leads Biden 51% to 46%.

That’s a remarkably bad situation in Georgia, a state that had been trending purple for years before Democrats swept the state in 2020. Midterms generally tend to generate turnout models based on presidential approval ratings, and this signals a significantly big handicap for Democrats in the Peach State. And it’s a factor that pollsters have missed in the past — 2014 especially — without much evidence that they’ve fixed those problems.