Veteran North Carolina pollster Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling (pictured at left) released his preliminary analysis of the results in the Georgia Senate runoffs this morning and his assessments seem likely to prove instructive to North Carolina Democrats as they look forward to future elections in which they seek to replicate the apparent victories of Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in another deeply “purple” state.
Because Reverend Warnock was such a strong candidate (starting the runoff with a 47/37 favorability rating) and Kelly Loeffler was such an unappealing candidate (starting the runoff with a 43/46 favorability rating) that race was always in a pretty decent place for Democrats. Warnock never trailed in one of our polls, led by an average of a point across them all, and had a 2 point advantage on our final poll last week that is likely to be close to his final margin of victory.
It was a different story in the Ossoff/Perdue race though. We found Perdue leading by 4-5 points in the polls we did in the first two weeks after the November election, including one where he even hit 51%. But thanks to a great campaign effort- both on the ground driving out more votes for the Democratic ticket and on the airwaves driving up Perdue’s negatives and building awareness about how he had been enriched by his time in office- we saw a great comeback for Ossoff after Thanksgiving.
A few things that were key:
-His relentless approach to building community and support with Black voters. On our first poll of the runoff Warnock was at 91% support with Black voters, while Ossoff was at only 82% support. A month later Warnock was again at 91% support with Black voters, but Ossoff was up to 90% support. Prioritizing outreach to Black voters and not taking them for granted was a huge piece of Ossoff coming back.
-The incredible field work done by both Georgia based and national organizations changed the electorate. On our first runoff poll the people planning to vote in it gave Donald Trump a net +4 approval rating. On our last two runoff polls he averaged a net -1 approval rating and the final margins in Georgia suggest that how people voted for the Senate pretty much aligned with their feelings about Trump. A few people might have changed their minds about Trump during the runoff campaign out of disgust with his refusal to accept the results of the election but mostly the effective ground work changed the composition of the electorate and made it more friendly to Democrats.
Our final poll had Ossoff tied and Warnock up 2 and our poll before that had Ossoff tied and Warnock up 1. It appears that Ossoff will end up winning by 1 and Warnock by 2.
Click here to read Jensen’s entire release.