New poll shows virtual tie between Abrams, Kemp with 2 months to go

ATLANTA — The gubernatorial race is shifting into high gear, and a new Channel 2 Action News/Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll shows the race is a statistical tie.

Both Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp each have about 45 percent of support from voters in the new poll.

The UGA School of Public and International Affairs polled just over 1,000 people.

[READ: Breaking down the numbers: What our latest poll shows about governor's race, president]

Republican Brian Kemp received 45.3 percent of the support while 44.9 percent of those polled support Democrat Stacey Abrams.

But with a margin of error at just over 3 percent, the race is a statistical tie with barely two months before the general election.

Channel 2's Richard Elliot showed the results of the poll to Republican strategist Brian Robinson and Democratic strategist Tharon Johnson.

“This is huge for Stacey Abrams,” Johnson said.

Johnson says the poll numbers show the viability of Abrams campaign.

The poll shows 43 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of her while 26 percent do not.

“This shows the viability of her becoming governor is real. This is going to be something she can take all across Georgia and say, ‘I can win this race, but I need your help,’” Johnson said.

“The question today is, 'Have the tectonic plates changed?'” Robinson said.

Robinson believes Republicans are still strong enough to help Kemp win.

The polls shows 40 percent have a favorable opinion of him while 32 percent do not.

Robinson believes Abrams will have a tougher time given that Georgia’s economy is doing so well under a popular Republican governor.

“Stacey Abrams has to make the argument that we need wholesale change in Georgia.  That’s really a tough sell to make when things are going so swimmingly here,” Robinson said.

Traditionally, Georgia has been a red state, but these poll numbers show what a lot of experts have been saying for a while now -- the state is changing.


The poll also asked Georgians about President Donald Trump.

The poll found that only 42 percent of Georgians support Trump, while 51 percent disapprove of his performance.

Experts say that could have an impact on the governor’s race.

“This is what we were just talking about, the moderates in this poll,” Johnson said.

Johnson thinks some moderate republicans are having second thoughts about the president.

“I think that they voted for Trump because they hated Hillary, and now they’ve got what they wanted, they’re like, ‘Oh my God, maybe we’re having buyer’s remorse,’” Johnson said.

The numbers also show polarized Georgia is just like the rest of the nation.

Eighty-five percent of the state's polled Republicans support the president, but 94 percent of Democrats disapprove of him.

“I’m not surprised,” Robinson said.

Robinson says the fact that Republican Gov. Nathan Deal is enjoying a 63 percent job approval rating shows that voters are not unhappy with the party’s ideology, but are unhappy with the president. That means the GOP needs to work on its message.

“Over the past 16 years, we’ve been a reliable red state, and that’s changing and Republicans know that. We’re not blind to that real challenge,” Robinson said.

CLICK HERE to take a deep look at what the numbers and the trends they show across the state.