Georgia is rearing to be an epic battleground for control of the federal government this November, with Donald Trump and Joe Biden in a dead heat for president and Senator Kelly Loeffler virtually tied with two of her opponents in the all-party special election for Senate, according to a new internal GOP poll obtained by The Independent.
Forty-seven per cent of respondents to the poll from a group that supports Republican Governor Brian Kemp said they are supporting Mr Biden, compared to 46 per cent who said they support Mr Trump, well within the margin of error of +/-4.38 percentage points for the overall sample.
Mr Trump, however, had a slight enthusiasm edge, with 43 per cent of the 500 likely voters polled from 4-7 May saying they will definitely vote for him, compared to 39 per cent who said they would definitely vote for Mr Biden.
In the Peach State’s all-party special election for US Senate, Ms Loeffler, the Republican incumbent, had 18 per cent support, compared to 19 per cent support for GOP challenger Congressman Doug Collins and 17 per cent support for Democratic businessman Matt Lieberman, the son of former Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
Pastor and civil rights activist Raphael Warnock, national Democrats’ candidate in the race for Ms Loeffler’s seat, received 9 per cent support.
Forty-two percent of those surveyed by Public Opinion Strategies, which is aligned with Mr Kemp, who appointed Ms Loeffler to succeed Senator Johnny Isakson after Mr Isakson retired in December due to health concerns, identified as Republicans. Forty-one per cent identified as Democrats, and 16 per cent said they were Independents.
The Loeffler campaign touted the new poll as evidence that it has “momentum solidly on [its] side.”
Ms Loeffler’s campaign has been plagued by questions over the senator’s sale of individual stocks shortly after she had received private intelligence briefings about the coronavirus pandemic in January. US and global markets cratered due to the health crisis within weeks.
Ms Loeffler, one of the wealthiest lawmakers in Washington, said she did nothing wrong and that her portfolio, which is vast, is managed by third-party brokers with whom she had no contact about the sales. She later converted her individual stocks into mutual funds and exchange-traded funds to avoid appearances of a conflict of interest.
“Despite months of false attacks from the liberal media and her political opponents, Kelly is in a statistical tie for first with significant advantages in resources, message, and campaign infrastructure,” said Ms Loeffler’s campaign spokesman, Stephen Lawson.
Ms Loeffler does indeed have substantially more resources at her disposal, with the endorsement of Senate Republicans’ national campaign committee and the ability to pump millions of dollars of her own money into the campaign.
Donald Trump has not weighed in on whether he prefers her or Mr Collins, who was one of the president’s fiercest defenders during impeachment proceedings last year as ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee.
Mr Collins’ campaign dismissed the poll as “fiction.” Public Opinion Strategies’ release did not contain cross tabs or show how questions were asked.
“If it makes [Ms Loeffler] feel better, she is free to believe it. They cooked that poll up in her basement with Yahtzee dice and a Ouija board,” said Collins campaign spokesman Dan McLagan.
Internal polling in April from Mr Collins’ campaign showed him 50 points of Ms Loeffler among likely Republican voters.
The poll released on Tuesday shows the other Georgia Senate race in a statistical tie, with Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue receiving 43 per cent support and Democratic former journalist Jon Ossoff getting 41 per cent support.
Inside Elections with Nathan L Gonzales rates both Georgia Senate races Likely Republican. The Cook Political Report rates Ms Loeffler’s seat Leans Republican and Mr Perdue’s seat Likely Republican.