Why Stacey Abrams is a clear underdog in Georgia

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They also seem to be doing fairly well in gubernatorial elections. In the six states that President Joe Biden won by less than 5 points in 2020 and that are also holding governor’s races this year, Democrats either hold a clear advantage (Michigan and Pennsylvania) or are in toss-up contests (Arizona, Nevada and Wisconsin) in five of them. The exception is Georgia, where Democratic hero Stacey Abrams is making her second bid for governor.

It’s in Georgia where we begin our look at the week of politics that was.

Last week saw the release of three different polls from the Peach state that meet CNN’s standard for publication. All three put GOP Gov. Brian Kemp ahead of Abrams in their rematch from 2018.

  • CBS News/YouGov gave Kemp a 52% to 46% advantage
  • Marist College had Kemp up 50% to 44%
  • Monmouth University found that 49% of Georgians would support Kemp while 45% would back Abrams

These polls line up with the average of recent surveys, which has Kemp ahead by around 5 points with about 50% of the vote. The latter is an important nugget because winning in November requires a majority of the vote to avoid a December runoff.

Kemp is in a considerably better position than he was at this point four years ago. Back then, the two candidates were basically tied in late September. Kemp would go on to win by a mere 1.4 points, narrowly avoiding a runoff.

Part of Kemp’s advantage is that he is an incumbent this year. Of the six states that narrowly backed Biden in 2020 and are holding governor’s races this year, Georgia is the only one with a GOP incumbent on the gubernatorial ballot. Incumbents don’t receive as big a boost at the ballot box as they used to, but they still do get some sort of bump.

Indeed, Kemp is a well-liked governor. The polls out last week put his net approval (approve minus disapprove) or favorability (favorable minus unfavorable) ratings in positive territory. That’s not an easy feat in a swing state like Georgia.

But it’s not all about Kemp. Abrams sported a negative net favorability rating in the Marist poll and was at break even in the Monmouth survey.

The problem for Abrams isn’t that she lacks devoted followers. About as many voters in Monmouth’s poll said they were definitely voting for Abrams (33%) as did for Kemp (34%). A higher percentage of Abrams supporters said they were very enthusiastically backing their candidate (74%) than Kemp supporters (58%) in the CBS News poll.

Abrams’ issue is that the candidate well known for her efforts to drive up voter turnout seems to be lagging among swing voters. Kemp leads by 10 points among independents in the average of recent polls.

Perhaps by going against then-President Donald Trump and certifying the 2020 presidential vote in the state, Kemp has managed to pull in a portion of 2020 Biden voters — 11% of them, per the Marist poll. Abrams is winning 5% of Trump voters, the survey found. In a state where the presidential election was determined by 0.24 points in 2020, this makes all the difference.

And while Kemp does best among voters most likely to turn out, he leads among all registered voters too. In other words, his edge over Abrams is not merely about turnout.

For Abrams to win, she’ll likely need one of two things to happen. Either she’ll need to convince voters that Kemp is too extreme for Georgia, or she needs the polls to turn out to be inaccurate.

Unfortunately for Abrams, polls in Georgia have been more accurate than in the average swing state over the last few election cycles.

DeSantis may be beating Trump at his own game

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made waves earlier this month when he sent migrants from the Sun Belt up to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. I noted in the immediate aftermath that DeSantis had a history of creating press for himself on Fox News, and his latest actions were no exception. DeSantis had 253 mentions on the cable news outlet in the week following the migrants’ arrival on Martha’s Vineyard. By contrast, Trump had 237 mentions on Fox in that same time period. Put another way, DeSantis had more mentions per day (36) than Trump did (34) during that week. This is extremely unusual. In the six months prior, DeSantis only averaged five mentions per day on Fox. He saw a seven-fold increase in the week after the migrants’ arrival. Trump had been averaging 43 mentions per day in the six months prior. DeSantis gets standing ovation from GOP voters after flying migrants to Martha's Vineyard

So what had been about an 8-to-1 advantage (unrounded) for Trump in Fox mentions turned basically even in the week after the events at Martha’s Vineyard.

The ability for DeSantis to generate press is notable because it is Trump who is the one usually dominating the headlines. That’s a big reason Trump was able to win the 2016 GOP nomination. No other candidate appeared able to get a word in edgewise in the media.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that DeSantis knows how to play the game of politics in the Trump era. Another great way to test this is to look at recent polling of a potential 2024 Republican presidential primary in Florida, which shows DeSantis ahead of Trump.

Now you may say it’s not a big deal that DeSantis leads the former President in his home state.

Here’s the thing, though: Florida is the one state where voters know both men well. Remember, it’s Trump’s home state too. The Sunshine State is also where Trump beat Marco Rubio in the 2016 GOP presidential primary and knocked the Florida senator out of the race.

If you looked back at presidential primaries in the modern era (i.e., since 1972), no one has won a major-party nomination without winning their home state.

So if DeSantis or Trump were to win the 2024 GOP nomination without Florida, they’d be making history. But more likely, one of them would win Florida and the Republican nomination for president.

For your brief encounters: Aaron Judge makes my heart sink

Sometimes in life, you’re presented with a conundrum. That’s the way it is with New York Yankees great Aaron Judge. I hate the Yankees, but I love a good stats story. Aaron Judge's greatness is more than just a home run record

Judge is likely to demolish the American League single-season home run record this year. That, in itself, is impressive.

What makes Judge’s season all the more remarkable is that nobody else is anywhere close to him in the home run race. He’s been about 20 home runs ahead of his nearest competitor (Philadelphia Phillie Kyle Schwarber).

Not only that but he’s in the running for the American League Triple Crown (i.e., leading the league in home runs, batting average and runs batted in).

If baseball is your thing, I suggest you check out my article on Judge for more stats.

Leftover data

Facebook is still popular: A few weeks ago, I noted that Facebook was not popular among teenagers. Among adults, however, a new Pew Research Center report found that it was a top choice, with 70% of adults using the social media platform. Only YouTube was more popular (with 82% of adults visiting the site). Covid recovery struggles in Massachusetts: A survey of Massachusetts businesses by MassInc found that 53% of businesses in the commonwealth were still suffering from a revenue decline compared with where they were before the Covid pandemic.Concerns about Russia drop: Back in May, 59% of Americans were extremely or very concerned about Russia invading surrounding countries beyond Ukraine. Four months later, with the invasion of Ukraine not going too well for Russia, just 41% said they were extremely or very concerned, according to a recent Pew poll.