Q-Poll: Sen. Warnock Staked to Big Lead

A new Quinnipiac University survey is detecting a major shift in the Georgia US Senate contest between incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and challenger and retired college and pro football star Herschel Walker (R), but the study could be an anomaly.

The new Q-Poll (6/23-27; 1,497 GA registered voters; live interview) finds Sen. Warnock (D) jumping out to a 54-44% lead over Mr. Walker, the most lopsided ballot test since April, and the only one that is showing the incumbent with such a major advantage.

The previous polling largely began with a survey early last December from the National Republican Senatorial Committee that posted Mr. Walker to a one point lead. In the next six consecutive polls covering the period of December 9, 2021 to April 16, 2022, Mr. Walker led in every study.

The pattern changed in late April when a Survey USA poll projected Sen. Warnock to a 50-45% edge. The next two polls, both in June from East Carolina University and the Moore Information Group, found the two candidates tied.

Now we are presented with the Quinnipiac data that gives Sen. Warnock a strong lead.

The incumbent carries a 49:39% positive job approval rating, this in contrast to President Joe Biden’s upside down 33:60%. Mr. Walker scores poorly on honesty perception, however, 39:43% honest to dishonest, and he is not perceived to have good leadership skills: 37% seeing him as a credible leader, while 43% do not. Sen. Warnock scores strongly on both questions.

Though the latter polls have been moving toward Sen. Warnock, the Q-Poll takes a giant leap, so it is possible that this survey is an outlier. Looking at the crosstabs, we see the typical polarized splits on candidate preference and issues to an extreme degree among Democrats and Republicans. Very little crossover potential appears probable. Democrats support Warnock, 97-2%; Republicans are for Walker in a 93-7% clip.

The gender gap is wholly present in this poll, and yields a serious weakness for Mr. Walker among women (61-37% for Warnock) and a significant downturn among men for Sen. Warnock (52-45% split favoring Walker). Since this poll was taken during the exact time the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision, it’s possible that a short-term negative reaction to Republican Walker came through as a result of this development.

The Independent sector is where we may be detecting a significant skew, however. This group, on virtually every question but the Biden job approval query moves significantly toward the Democratic position and/or candidate, and in a greater degree than one would expect from people who self-identify as “independents” (62-33% for Warnock). 

The issue breakdown is another potential contention point. Instead of an open-ended question posed to the respondent about what issue is important to him or her, the participants are given a defined list of subject areas including (alphabetically), abortion, climate change, Covid-19, election laws, gun violence, healthcare, inflation, and racial inequality.

This defined issue list, in which inflation was the overwhelming first choice, is another facet of the poll that skews left because many of the right leaning issues such as crime, immigration, and the overall economy are excluded.

Finally, the pollsters tested the Governor’s race between incumbent Brian Kemp (R) and former state House Minority Leader and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams (D). The fact that the two are tied at 48% is also interesting and a bit unexpected when seeing the much larger split between the Senate candidates.

Obviously, we will see much more polling of this race between now and November, and we can expect fluctuation between the candidates as we head toward election month. While this particular poll may well skew toward Sen. Warnock, it is probable that we will soon see other data yielding a much closer ballot test. The Georgia Senate race is one that is far from over.

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