Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock holds a small, but clear lead over Republican Herschel Walker in his battle for a full term, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.
The survey asked 1,157 likely Georgia voters which candidate they would vote for in the General Election, finding Warnock with 52% support to Walker’s 45%. The lead falls outside the poll’s margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.
The poll shows Warnock with a significantly larger advantage compared to other recent measures of the high-profile race, which is one of a handful of key races that will decide whether Republicans or Democrats control the U.S. Senate next year.
A survey conducted by the University of Georgia and released earlier this week showed Warnock up 46%-43%, which falls within that poll’s margin of error.
However, the UGA poll was conducted before an Oct. 4 bombshell alleging the staunchly anti-abortion Walker urged and paid for his ex-girlfriend to terminate a pregnancy. Walker has said the report is false, despite mounting evidence.
By contrast, Quinnipiac’s poll was conducted Oct. 7-10.
Warnock’s growing lead could be partially attributable to Walker being embroiled in scandal, as favorability ratings indicate Georgians are souring on the Heisman-winning football great. The poll showed Warnock scoring a plus-6 rating, 50%-44%, while Walker was underwater at minus-16, 39%-55%.
Further, a whopping 57% of those polled said they do not believe Walker is honest; 58% said he does not have good leadership skills; and 50% said he does not care about average Georgians. Meanwhile, majorities said they did view Warnock as honest, as having good leadership skills, and as someone who cares about the average state citizen.
Still, Quinnipiac said that while the between-the-hedges legend is down, he is not out.
“With time running out to get to the metaphorical goal line of Nov. 8 and despite repeated penalty flags flying at his honesty and integrity, Herschel Walker is down by seven in the 4th quarter and still has a shot against incumbent Raphael Warnock in Georgia’s Senate race,” said Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy.
The pollster also measured the current state of the race between Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams, finding them essentially tied.
Kemp, who is running for re-election, earned 50% support in the poll compared to 49% for Abrams. The same margin of error applies to the Governor race, meaning the 1% gap is statistically insignificant.
Unlike the Senate contest, voters have a positive view of both candidates with each earning positive ratings for perceived honesty, leadership skills and an earnest belief they care about the average Georgian. Both also had positive favorability rating overall, with Kemp scoring a plus-5, 49%-44% and Abrams posting a plus-1, 48%-47%.
The poll is largely the same as Quinnipiac’s last measure of the race. As put by Malloy: “Kemp vs. Abrams … too close to call, and barely a whisper of change from four weeks ago.”