Georgia Republicans have a pick-your-own-poll adventure in the early days of the gubernatorial primary runoff between Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp.
Lt. Gov. Cagle and Secretary of State Kemp are both touting polls that show them in strong positions to win the July 24 runoff as their both redouble their efforts statewide, including a new Hall County headquarters for Cagle in Gainesville.
Cagle and Kemp’s polling present two different and conflicting stories about what’s going to happen next in the race to be Georgia’s next governor.
On Monday, June 4, Cagle released an internal poll (meaning his campaign paid for it) showing he’s ahead 52-42 against Kemp, with only 5 percent of voters undecided — well below the 30 percent or more undecided voters registered in most of the polls before the May 22 primary.
Cagle’s poll, from McLaughlin & Associates of Alexandria, Virginia, is a survey of 500 voters likely to cast a ballot in the runoff. The poll reports that 71 percent have a positive opinion of Cagle while 64 percent have a positive opinion of Kemp.
A higher percentage of voters also have a negative opinion of Cagle, according to the poll, at 20 percent unfavorable for Cagle compared to 13 percent of Kemp. Some of that might come down to name ID, as only 1 percent of likely Republican runoff voters haven’t heard of Cagle while 5 percent haven’t heard of Kemp.
The internal poll from Cagle suggests voters think the lieutenant governor is in a better position to beat Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in November. Voters surveyed said 57 percent to 28 percent that Cagle has a betters shot against in the fall against Abrams, who has been endorsed by Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and just about every other Democrat with a national profile.
Cagle’s poll also shows tremendous approval ratings for Republican leaders at the state and national level. More than 75 percent of Republican voters approve of Gov. Nathan Deal, while only 13 percent have an unfavorable opinion — while 8 percent have no opinion.
The numbers are even greater for President Donald Trump, who is apparently a titan among likely Republican primary runoff voters. Some 91 percent of voters approve of him, while only 8 percent disapprove.
Cagle’s poll has a 4.5 percent margin of error. It was a telephone survey of 500 likely voters using both landline and mobile phones from May 29-31.
Now, let’s switch a lot of those numbers around.
Kemp’s poll shows him neck-and-neck with Cagle in the runoff. Among all likely Republican runoff voters, Kemp has 45 percent to Cagle’s 46 percent — a large jump for Kemp from the primary election.
Kemp’s poll was performed by Public Opinion Strategies, also of Alexandria, and included 600 likely runoff voters in a landline and mobile phone survey from May 29-31.
In the May primary, Kemp took 25 percent of the vote to Cagle’s 39 percent in an election that included two other serious candidates, former state Sen. Hunter Hill and tech executive Clay Tippins.
Both Hill and Tippins have withheld endorsements at this point in the race, but Kemp is arguing that he’s pulling in much of the non-Cagle vote. His poll reports that 52 percent of those who voted for Hill and Tippins plan to vote for Kemp in the runoff, while 34 percent plan to vote for Cagle.
The poll notes that the percentage of those surveyed tracks with the primary results — 17 percent reported voting for Hill and 10 percent reported voting for Tippins.
Meanwhile, the poll suggests Kemp has the vote of Georgia’s most conservative voters. Among voters who identify as “very conservative,” 48 percent said they’d vote for Kemp compared to 44 percent for Cagle.
Self-identified strong NRA supporters said they would vote 50-42 for Kemp, while those who were most motivated to vote supported Kemp 48-44.
Kemp’s poll had even better news for Gov. Deal. Georgia’s sitting governor earned 88 percent support among those polled for Kemp, and only 10 percent disapproved.
When: July 24
Early voting: July 2-20