The final balance of power in the Senate could be at stake in Georgia this December, but gun policy is unlikely to be the top priority.
This is the conclusion of the first survey that will be published for the race. A poll by AARP/Fabrizio Ward & Impact Research released Tuesday finds a significant gap in enthusiasm along the age line. While just three-quarters of voters between the ages of 18 and 49 say they are extremely motivated to vote in the runoff, the poll shows 90 percent of those over 50 say the same. Only four percent of same older voters rank gun control/gun rights as their top decision-making issue, ahead of climate change as the least mentioned issue among 11 possible options.
Overall, the poll shows incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D.) currently leads his Republican challenger Herschel Walker by 51 percent to 47 percent of all likely voters.
The election results come just as the country’s major arms groups have begun investing in the outcome of the race. The NRA launched a $1.5 million television advertising campaign in support of Walker on Monday. The ad seeks to raise the importance of gun policy by warning of imminent gun control should Warnock win. But the AARP poll shows that the gun rights group has a difficult hill to climb, especially with just 2 percent of older voters not already supporting one of the candidates identifying guns as their main issue.
Threats to democracy and inflation were the most frequently mentioned issues that dominated the voices of the over-50s. Inflation and the economy/jobs were the two most frequently mentioned issues for Republican-leaning and independent voters in this age group. Democratically-leaning older voters most frequently selected threats to democracy and issues related to Social Security and Medicare. The reviewers did not poll voters under the age of 50 on specific issues.
The pollsters found that older voters’ priorities on gun policy varied depending on which election they were polled about. Nine percent of older voters said guns were their top decision-making factor in Georgia’s gubernatorial election, more than double that in the Senate election. Gun policy was named fifth among senior voters in the gubernatorial campaign. It was particularly important to independently oriented older voters, for whom the issue trailed only behind economics in order of importance.
Aside from just one enthusiasm gap, the pollsters also found a significant split in candidate preference by age. Warnock leads voters aged 18 to 49 by a 24-point margin, while Walker has a nine-point margin among voters aged 50 and over. Independents are currently breaking out for Warnock by a respectable 54 percent to 39 percent margin. Warnock also enjoys an 11-point lead among women and a 12-point lead among those with college degrees.
Warnock is afloat with voters aged 18 and over. 51 percent give it positive grades versus 45 percent negative. Walker is slightly under water with voters with an approval rating of 45 percent to 49 percent. None of the candidates are as popular as Gov. Brian Kemp (R.), who has a net favoritism rating of 19 points following his re-election.
Voter turnout was a major issue in the upcoming election. With the Senate’s majority status already set in stone, it’s an open question how many voters will be herded to the polls for a midterm special election with less at stake than previously thought.
According to pollsters, Democrats (90 percent) are more motivated to vote in the runoff than Republicans (85 percent). Both groups are far more motivated than independents (77 percent) to show up on December 6th.
The survey was conducted by telephone from November 11th to November 17th. The pollsters surveyed 1,183 likely voters in Georgia, including a statewide representative sample of 500 likely voters, an oversample of 550 likely voters ages 50 and older, and an additional oversample of 133 black likely voters ages 50 and older. The margin of error for the 500 nationwide sample is ±4.4 percent. It’s ±3.3 percent for the 860 total sample of voters age 50 and older. It is ±4.9% for the total 400 sample of Black voters age 50 and older.