The final balance of power in the Senate might be at stake in Georgia this December, but gun policy is unlikely to take top billing.
That’s the takeaway from the first poll to be released on the race. An AARP/Fabrizio Ward & Impact Research poll released Tuesday finds a significant enthusiasm gap along age lines. While only three-quarters of voters 18-49 say they’re extremely motivated to vote in the runoff, the poll indicates that 90 percent of those 50 and older say the same. Only four percent of those same older voters rate gun control/gun rights as their most important deciding issue, ahead of only climate change as the least cited issue among eleven possible choices.
Overall, the poll finds incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock (D.) currently leading his Republican challenger Herschel Walker 51 percent to 47 percent among all likely voters.
The polling results arrive just as the country’s major gun groups have started to invest in the race’s outcome. The NRA launched a $1.5 million television ad campaign on Monday in support of Walker. The ad attempts to boost the salience of gun politics by warning of impending gun control should Warnock win. But the AARP poll shows the gun-rights group has a tough hill to climb, especially with only two percent of older voters who are not already committed to either candidate IDing guns as their top issue.
Threats to democracy and inflation were tied for the most cited issue determining the vote of those over 50. Inflation and the economy/jobs were the top two cited issues for Republican-leaning and independent voters in this age bracket. Democratic-leaning older voters selected threats to democracy and issues surrounding Social Security and Medicare most frequently. The surveyors did not poll voters under 50 on specific issues.
The pollsters did find older voters’ priorities on gun politics diverged depending on which election they were asked about. Nine percent of older voters said guns were their most important deciding factor in the Georgia gubernatorial race, more than double that of the senate election. Gun policy was the fifth most-cited among older voters in the gubernatorial race. It was particularly important to independent-leaning older voters, where the issue only trailed the economy in the order of importance.
Aside from just an enthusiasm gap, the pollsters also found a significant split in candidate preference by age. Warnock leads voters aged 18-49 by a 24-point margin, while Walker has a nine-point lead among voters 50 and older. Independents are currently breaking for Warnock by a sizeable 54 percent to 39 percent margin. Warnock also enjoys an 11-point advantage among women and a 12-point lead among those with college degrees.
In favorability, Warnock is above water among voters 18 and older. 51 percent give him favorable marks compared with 45 percent unfavorable. Walker is slightly underwater among voters, with a 45 percent to 49 percent favorability ratio. Neither candidate is as popular as Governor Brian Kemp (R.), who boasts a 19-point net favorability rating after winning re-election.
Turnout has been a major question in the upcoming election. With the majority status of the Senate already set in stone, it’s an open question how many voters will be driven to the polls for a special midterm election with less at stake than previously anticipated.
According to the pollsters, more Democrats (90 percent) are motivated to vote in the runoff than Republicans (85 percent). Both groups are far more motivated than independents (77 percent) to turn out on December 6.
The poll was conducted by phone from November 11 to November 17. The pollsters interviewed 1,183 likely Georgia voters, which included a statewide representative sample of 500 likely voters, an oversample of 550 likely voters aged 50 and older, and an additional oversample of 133 Black likely voters aged 50 and older. The margin of error for the 500 statewide sample is ±4.4 percent. It’s ±3.3percent for the 860 total sample of voters 50 and older. It’s ±4.9% for the 400 total sample of Black voters 50 and older.