Newly-released Georgia Senate runoff polls show Democratic candidates with a widening lead

Rev Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff meet in a georgia senate runoff rally
Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock greet each other onstage during the “Vote GA Blue” concert for Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff at New Birth Church on December 28, 2020.

  • The two Georgia Senate runoff elections will decide whether Republicans maintain control of the Senate. If Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock both win, Democrats will control the legislative and executive branches, allowing for President-elect Joe Biden to accomplish his legislative goals with greater ease.
  • According to newly-released polls from JMC Analytics and Polling, Warnock and Perdue have grown their projected leads wider than ever before as early votes continue to be cast.
  • JMC is one of just a handful of pollsters participating in the Senate runoffs — many of the most-recognized and most-reputable pollsters have not conducted any polls since the general election in November.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock have widened their projected leads against incumbent Republican candidates Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the Senate runoff elections in Georgia, according to a newly-released poll from JMC Analytics and Polling

The JMC polls, conducted between December 28-29, show Ossoff ahead of Perdue in a 50-43 percentage point margin – 7% of respondents were undecided. The divide between Warnock and Loeffler in the poll is even larger with Warnock ahead in a 53-44 percentage point margin with just 3% of respondents undecided. 

When asked how and when the survey takers would vote, 91% of respondents noted that they had already voted or planned to vote early in-person or by mail. Just 7% of respondents said they planned to vote on election day. 

In November, about 20% of the state’s votes were cast on election day. If JMC’s polling is correct, Loeffler and Perdue will need to receive far more of Georgia’s 2.6 million early votes than expected.

The two elections will have a direct impact on the beginning of President-elect Joe Biden’s presidency: If Ossoff and Warnock succeed in their respective races, the Democratic party will have control of the entirety of the legislative and executive branches of the federal government and would allow Biden to accomplish his legislative goals with greater ease.

But while JMC’s polling is a good sign for Democrats, it is one of only a handful of pollsters which have participated in the Georgia Senate runoffs.

The 2020 presidential election was home to hundreds of polls throughout the country – some of which were grossly off, leading to backlash.

Nick Gourevitch, a Democratic pollster with Global Strategy Group, told Politico that expecting trust in the Georgia polls following the tumultuous presidential polling results would be a mistake.

“Everybody fundamentally understands that it’s going to become an issue of partisan turnout,” Gourevitch said. “And anybody who tells you they know exactly what’s going to happen in terms of partisan turnout in a special election with two senators to decide control of the Senate in a post-Trump era when he’s not on the [ballot] – nobody knows the answer to that question. It’s a completely unique situation.”

Nate Silver, the editor-in-chief and founder of FiveThirtyEight, thinks the answer is even simpler: “I think pollsters are being chicken,” he said on FiveThirtyEight podcast on Tuesday.

Following the general election, FiveThirtyEight has tracked just 20 polls, many of which come from smaller, less experienced polling groups.

“You are not polling,” Silver said in reference to many of the large university-aligned pollsters, “because you are scared of being wrong… Pollsters don’t want to put their necks on the line because we live in a world where people are not very rational about probabilities and uncertainty.” 

President Trump’s recent defiance of the GOP is not helping Republican candidates.

Trump Georgia rally
President Donald Trump headlined a campaign rally in Valdosta, Ga., for Sens. David Perdue, left, and Kelly Loeffler, right.

Trump, for his part, has put Loeffler and Perdue in difficult political positions throughout their respective Senate runoff campaigns.

While Loeffler and Perdue have both ran as unwavering allies of Trump, with the president traveling to the state to headline a December 5 rally on their behalf, he mostly used the event to air grievances about his own election, repeatedly making debunked claims of voter fraud and falsely stating that he won the state over Biden.

Trump has repeatedly jousted with top Georgia Republicans from Gov. Brian Kemp to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, creating a sense of political disunity, which party members can ill afford if they are to win both races against well-funded Democratic challengers who have strong support from Biden and the party base.

The president’s consistent pressure campaign against the statewide election results drove Loeffler and Perdue to call for Raffensperger’s resignation last month, which the secretary of state firmly rejected.

When the $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill passed both houses of Congress, it included $600 direct stimulus checks, which Trump said was too low. Warnock and Ossoff have both been pressing for increased direct aid for months, and it has emerged as a major campaign issue in both Senate races.

Before Trump’s push for increased direct aid, Loeffler and Perdue touted their support for the compromise relief bill. However, with the president calling the $600 figure a “disgrace,” Loeffler quickly backed his proposal for $2,000 stimulus checks on December 29, followed by Perdue on the same day. 

Previously, Loeffler had been on the fence about increased stimulus payments, while Perdue has generally opposed stimulus checks, which Ossoff has highlighted in his campaign.

Despite Trump not actually being on the ballot, his legacy is at stake. Loeffler and Perdue still have to closely align themselves with the president to win or risk turning off his most ardent supporters.

With control of the Senate on the line and Democrats in a solid position to capture both seats, Loeffler and Perdue have to increase turnout on their side or a blue wave will give Biden the unified government that he needs to enact his agenda.

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