Polls are to elections what the early betting line is to a football game, the best available guess on the outcome.
The polls leading up to the May 24 Republican primary for U.S. Senate suggest that former University of Georgia running back Herschel Walker will defeat his opponents by several touchdowns.
Walker’s lack of government experience, documented business problems, mental health challenges (which he has spoken about), along with several controversial pronouncements, may be fodder for his opponents but appear not to disturb the party faithful.
To use another football metaphor, Walker’s primary opponents have found him no easier to tackle than the defenses he ran through when Georgia won a national title in 1980. They complain that he holds few public events, is not clear on what policies he supports, and has side-stepped pre-election debates.
Walker has the backing of former President Donald Trump (who owned the football team where Walker began his professional career). At a March 27 rally in Commerce, Trump not only warned that his supporters would not support Gov. Brian Kemp in a general election, but that Walker’s candidacy would suffer if Kemp, rather than David Perdue, were the Republican gubernatorial nominee.
“You know what, if Kemp wins, I think Herschel Walker is going to be very seriously and negatively impacted, because Republicans that happen to like Donald Trump — MAGA Republicans — are not going to go and vote for this guy Kemp,” Trump said.
In an April 20 interview with WDUN, Walker veered from Trump’s election claims. “I don’t know if there were problems with the 2020 election,” he said.
A survey of 886 likely Republican voters, conducted April 10 by the School of Public and International Affairs Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia., showed Walker with 65.9 percent and his nearest rival, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, with 6.7 percent, with 22.9 percent undecided. A Landmark Communications poll of 660 likely Republican voters, conducted in April, showed that Walker’s support grew with the age of the respondents, from 51.7 percent among 18- to 30-year-olds up to 73.6 percent among those 65 and older.
On his mental health issues, Walker told WDUN: “Mental health is like anything, you can go out and get it taken care of … that’s one of the reasons I am more qualified. I can get knocked down, get up and still succeed.”
Without naming Walker specifically, Black’s campaign website says: “This election is too important for an experiment. Trusted experience is the key.”
The other Republicans vying for the nomination, and showing lesser support in polls, are former state Rep. Josh Clark, Air Force Academy graduate and businessman Kelvin King, Brig. Gen. (ret.), former Navy Seal Latham Saddler, and Brig. Gen. (ret.) Jonathan McColumn.
The primary winner will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, whose victory in a January 2021 runoff against then-incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler, earned him the final two years in the term of the late Sen. Johnny Isakson.
Warnock now is seeking a full six-year term. He faces a primary challenge from Tamara Johnson-Shealey, who finished sixth in the November 2020 all-comers primary that led to Warnock defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a January 2021 runoff.
The November general election will play a major role in determining control of the Senate, currently divided 50-50 (with two unaffiliated senators caucusing with the Democrats), with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.
Politico reported that the Senate Majority Political Action Committee directed by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York had reserved $25 million for spending in Georgia and that the Senate Leadership Fund connected with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had set aside $37 million for Georgia.
Walker has considerably more money to spend than his primary opponents. As of March 31, Walker reported contributions exceeding $14.3 million and $7.4 million cash on hand. By comparison, Saddler reported having nearly $1.9 million cash on hand, King $1.3 million, Black $791,500, and Clark $126,700. No figure was reported for McColumn.
Still, Walker’s treasure chest cash was dwarfed by Warnock’s, who, as of March 31, reported raising $62.4 million and had $25.5 million cash on hand.
- Dave Schechter
- Republican primary
- U.S. Senate
- Herschel Walker
- Mental Health
- University of Georgia
- Donald Trump
- Rep. Josh Clark
- Gov. Brian Kemp
- Gov. David Perdue
- MAGA Republicans
- Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black
- Landmark Communications
- Navy Seal Latham Sadler
- Brig. Gen. (ret.) Jonathan McColumn
- Kelvin King
- Sen. Raphael Warnock
- Tamara Johnson-Shealey
- Sen. Kelly Loeffler
- Vice President Kamala Harris
- Senate Majority Political Action Committee
- Chuck Schumer
- Senate Leadership Fund
- Mitch McConnell