ATLANTA — The race for Georgia governor is as close as it's ever been, according to the newest Channel 2 Action News & The Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll released Thursday.
According to the new poll, there's a real possibility of a December runoff between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp.
The poll, conducted by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, has Abrams at 46.9 percent and Kemp at 46.7 percent of the vote, a statistical tie that’s within the poll’s margin of error of 3 percentage points.
It’s the third-consecutive poll that shows the contest is too close to call, and mirrors other recent surveys that point to a Dec. 4 runoff if neither candidate gets the majority-vote needed.
A lot depends on the performance of Libertarian Ted Metz, who captured 1.6 percent of the vote, and roughly 5 percent of undecided voters.
Trey Hood, the UGA political scientist who conducted the poll, said Metz’s numbers could be further squeezed as the remaining undecided voters make up their minds.
“This race hasn’t opened up one way or another. But the 5 percent of undecided voters are either going to make the decision to vote -- or not show up at all,” he said. “Mathematically there could be a runoff, but it would have to be a super squeaker.”
The poll was conducted between Oct. 21-30 and included 1,091 likely voters.
GENDER AND RACE
The gender gap evident in previous polls has hardened.
Kemp leads among men 54.5 percent to 40.5 percent. Abrams has a 53.4 percent to 38.9 percent edge among women.
White women, however, lean toward Kemp. He leads Abrams 63.4 percent to 31.6 percent.
Abrams, who would be the nation’s first black female governor, has support of roughly 90 percent of black voters.
Kemp is dominating among white voters, with more than two-thirds support.
Voters over 65 favor Kemp, while younger voters under 29 back Abrams by a 22-point margin.
The Democrat also leads among independent voters, who made up only about 10 percent of the electorate, by 53.5 percent to 25.4 percent.
The relatively small margin of independents reflects the intense polarization of the race that has drawn both Barack Obama and Donald Trump to major rallies in the closing days.
Trump’s approval rating remained steady at 46 percent, while his disapproval rating remained unchanged at 50 percent.
Liberals overwhelmingly oppose him, conservatives overwhelmingly support him, but there’s a starker split among independents: Only 1 in 4 approve of his performance.
Voter intensity is high on both sides of the party line.
Nearly 70 percent of voters say the midterm election is “much more important” or “more important” than past votes. That includes 68 percent of Republicans and three-quarters of Democrats.
About 44 percent of voters are concerned that it’s “likely” or “very likely” that many votes will not be counted.
That includes three-quarters of voters who identify as liberals.
A solid majority of conservatives, meanwhile, say it’s not very likely or not likely at all that ballots won’t be properly counted.
Another question on ballot integrity was also deeply split.
About half of voters said it’s “likely” or “very likely” that voters will be illegally cast by people not eligible to vote.
Nearly two-thirds of Republicans raised those concerns, while only about one-third of Democrats did so.
In the race for lieutenant governor, Republican Geoff Duncan led Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico, 46.9 percent to 44.8. About 8 percent of voters are undecided in that race, which is within the margin of error.
The contest for secretary of state is also a statistical tie, with Democrat John Barrow at 42.1 percent and Republican Brad Raffensperger at 41.2 percent. Libertarian Smythe DuVal tallied 5.4 percent, while more than 11 percent of voters remain uncommitted.
Our investigative partners at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and AJC.com contributed to this report.
Cox Media Group