Georgia Senate Race Between Walker, Warnock Is Tight Despite Drama

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(Bloomberg) -- The race between incumbent Democrat US Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker remained tight as polls suggest Walker’s bid hasn’t suffered significant damage from a scandal over an alleged abortion and ongoing family drama.

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A University of Georgia poll showed the race is about even. Warnock leads Walker 46% to 43%, within the margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, while Libertarian Chase Oliver draws the support of about 4% of those surveyed. About 7% were undecided.

If no candidate can secure 50% of the vote in the Nov. 8 election, the race will go to a two-candidate runoff.

A separate statewide poll released later Wednesday by Quinnipiac University showed Warnock with a wider lead, 52% to 45%, an edge that exceeds that survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

But Oliver wasn’t provided as an option in that survey. About 2% were undecided or said they wouldn’t vote.

The race is one of the most closely watched as the two parties vie for control of the now 50-50 Senate. Georgia had been a reliably Republican state but now has two Democratic senators, making Warnock’s seat a key target for Republicans.

The University of Georgia telephone survey of likely voters was conducted Sept. 25 to Oct. 4, mostly before the Daily Beast published allegations that Walker, who opposes abortion rights, paid for a girlfriend to have an abortion, later had a child with her and hasn’t been involved in that child’s life.

Quinnipiac conducted its survey from Oct. 7 to Oct. 10, a period by which those accusations had been public. However, its results were largely unchanged from a Quinnipiac poll released Sept. 14 -- before those issues were aired -- showing Walker then ahead 52% to 46%.

Walker has denied the allegations.

University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock said Wednesday he believes some Republicans who don’t want to back Walker are considering throwing their support to third-party candidate Oliver -- rather than flat-out crossing party lines to vote for Warnock.

“The difference between first-place candidate Warnock’s estimated vote share and second-place candidate Walker’s estimated vote share, at 3.0, is not statistically significant. In plain English, the US Senate race is a dead heat,” a statement that accompanied the UGA poll declared.

The UGA results regarding other statewide match-ups, including the governor’s race between incumbent Republican Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams, weren’t as close, with Kemp leading by 10.3 percentage points.

By contrast, Quinnipiac’s findings released Wednesday showed the Kemp-Abrams race as a toss-up, with Kemp leading 50% to 49%.

The UGA poll, conducted by its School of Public & International Affairs, was done for the Georgia News Collaborative.

(Updates throughout to add second poll)

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