Happy New Year, and o what a Happy New Year it is! Thank you Georgia and congratulations and thank you to all our clients and friends who did awesome work to help make last night’s wins possible- especially our partners on the ground at Fair Fight Action and America Votes who have been paving the way for years to make a night like last night possible.
PPP did polling for four different clients in Georgia and we thought you might be interested in a behind the scenes look at how the races progressed, with a special focus on the Ossoff/Perdue race.
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.
It was a tough cycle for polling and we feel very badly about races where we found a better picture for our clients than it ended up being. But we don’t think- especially after last night- that polling is ‘broken.’ The years from 2017-19 produced the most accurate polling our company and to some extent the industry at large had ever done.
It is clear after the difficulties with the polling in both 2016 and 2020 that the unique cult behind Donald Trump was very hard for pollsters to pick up sufficiently. But the polling industry has done great whenever Trump is not on the ballot- and we certainly hope he never will be ever again for all sorts of reasons!
We still wish things had turned out better in November for both the Democrats and the polling. But a year ago I think if you said we could have the White House, the Senate, and the House that’s a deal we would have taken! We hope to have the privilege of working with you in 2021 and beyond and again congratulate and thank our partners whose great work made the successes of this cycle possible.
Contact us if we can help you with anything-
Director, Public Policy Polling