It’s Election Day and the final polls are in on two hotly contested races in Georgia. The Georgia gubernatorial race between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams has been in a virtual dead heat and is one of the most closely watched races in the country. Democrats are also eyeing a close race in Georgia’s sixth congressional district as a possible chance to flip a Republican seat in their quest to control the House.
The late-breaking news in the race for governor is that Kemp, who is currently Georgia’s secretary of state, has launched an investigation into Georgia’s Democratic Party for an alleged hacking attempt on the state’s voter registration system. Democrats denied the allegations and Abrams, intentionally or unintentionally echoing Donald Trump, called the investigation a “witch hunt.”
The Black Panthers also made a splash in social media over the weekend with an armed march through an Atlanta suburb. Pictures and video of Black Panther members armed with shotguns and rifles and carrying Stacey Abrams signs made the rounds on social media as conservatives pointed out that Abrams favors gun control and an “assault weapons” ban. The march lasted approximately 30 minutes and culminated at a radio station. No one was injured and no laws were apparently broken.
Polling in the race remains close. A final poll released today from 20/20 Insight gives Abrams a four-point lead. A Trafalgar poll yesterday showed Kemp up by 12. Other recent polls show a race that is within two points, a statistical tie.
Among the Georgia polling, the only two polls that show either candidate with more than 50 percent of the vote are the last two. 20/20 shows Abrams with 50 percent while Trafalgar credits Kemp with 52. Both polls are almost certainly outliers.
Georgia requires that candidates win a majority with more than 50 percent of the vote. With Libertarian candidate Ted Metz polling at up to two percent, the odds good that neither candidate will win Georgia’s gubernatorial race today. If no candidate wins 50 percent, the race will be decided by a runoff next month.
The other closely watched race in Georgia is the sixth district where Karen Handel is defending her newly acquired seat against Democrat Lucy McBath. Handel narrowly defeated Democrat Jon Ossof in a June 2017 special election to fill the seat vacated by Tom Price, who joined the Trump Administration. Handel won the special election by just under four points. Price had carried the district by more than 23 points in 2016 while Donald Trump won the sixth district by only one point.
There are only two public polls in the race. Both were taken in October and the results were split. The first poll, taken in mid-October by JMC Analytics, gave Handel a four-point lead. The second, taken late in the month by the New York Times, had Democrat McBath up by two points. The lack of polling and close results make this race a tossup, but, since there is no third-party candidate, it will be decided tonight.
The sixth district race may be a bellwether for Republicans since the polls in Georgia close at 7:00 p.m. The midterms are widely expected to be a referendum on Donald Trump and the suburban Atlanta district has not been particularly friendly to Trump. JMC found Trump’s approval there to be 45 percent, very close to the national average. Handel, who has voted with Trump 87 percent of the time, may find that the president’s strategy of linking the election to immigration in its final days didn’t help her campaign.
Both the Georgia governor’s race and the race for the sixth district congressional seat are close races with national implications. This is an atypical year for Georgia in which the outcome is not a sure thing for the Republican candidates, especially in statewide races. The final tally will depend on turnout and the result could go either way.
[Photo: David Thornton]