Four years ago, Stacey Abrams came within 55,000 votes of beating Brian Kemp in Georgia’s gubernatorial race. The turnout of black voters hoping to elect the Peach State’s first black female governor contributed to her impressive numbers.
This year, Abrams hasn’t been able to count on that level of support from black voters, and it’s showing in overall polling numbers.
A new poll from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution demonstrates the problem that Abrams is experiencing. The AJC shows her support among black voters at 79%, which should be impressive but isn’t quite enough to put the Governor’s Mansion within reach.
“While that might appear to be a lofty number, Democrats typically poll at least 10 percentage points higher with Black voters, report Anjali Huynh and Greg Bluestein at the AJC. “Among Black men, Abrams’ support dips to 75%, with an additional one-fifth backing Kemp and 6% undecided.”
Abrams has taken to holding rallies to drum up more black support, including trotting her father out at some of the rallies.
“I am not a Black man, but I’ve been raised by one,” she said, introducing him at one rally, “and I am always going to say that if Black men stand with me and vote for me and work with me, we can change the future of Georgia.”
The big problem is that black men are increasingly standing with Brian Kemp. Take a look at these polling numbers from this year compared to 2018:
But it’s more than just votes. Kemp has a surprising 30% approval rating among black voters, which is unheard of for a Republican in Georgia, and the governor’s black supporters have valid reasons for approving of the job he has done.
The AJC quotes one particular supporter: “’If something isn’t broken, we don’t need to try to fix it. I agree with Kemp’s policies and I like where the state is going,’ said John Francois, an accountant from Upson County who is among the Black men supporting Kemp. ‘It’s not really about Stacey Abrams — it’s more about the governor’s agenda.’”
Yet here’s what’s crazy about it all. Abrams’ campaign is in denial that her support among black voters is slipping, even while admitting that black voters feel as though the Democrats have taken them for granted.
“We’re coming at this in a moment of time when Black voters feel taken for granted in the Democratic Party,” campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo told the AJC.
In either complete ignorance or denial of the numbers, she added, “Black voters we talk to say Stacey Abrams is different and she’s fighting for them. And we know when we talk to them, we’ll win those voters overwhelmingly.”
The problem with Abrams is that she only has rhetoric, while Kemp has a record. Georgia’s economy is robust under Kemp’s leadership, especially after Georgia was the first state to reopen its economy after the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns. Voters across the Peach State have seen that Georgia’s voter laws make it easier to vote but harder to cheat, in spite of the lies that Abrams and other Democrats have spread. It’s also easy to see how Abrams’ rhetoric affected minority-owned businesses when she pushed Major League Baseball to move the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta.
Kemp’s support is trickling down to other statewide races, including the Senate race, where former Georgia Bulldog and NFL star Herschel Walker has a thin lead over Sen. Raphael Warnock. That race in particular is interesting to watch since both candidates are black.
In the final few weeks of the campaign, Kemp is pulling even further ahead of Abrams, and that’s due in part to his support among black voters — and men in particular. Of course, the only poll that matters is the one that takes place on Election Day, but things are looking good for Kemp and bad for Abrams.