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Raphael Warnock leads, Herschel Walker ‘in trouble’ UMass Lowell poll shows


The U.S. Senate seems to be tilting more left, a new poll shows.

Incumbent Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock leads Republican ex-football star Herschel Walker by 5 points, garnering 51% to 46% support among likely voters in Tuesday’s Senate runoff, with just 2% of those polled undecided.

That’s all according to UMass Lowell’s Center for Public Opinion.

“This race could go either way, but Herschel Walker is in trouble,” said Associate Professor of Political Science John Cluverius, director of survey research at UMass Lowell’s poll.

The voting ends Tuesday night and the balance of the U.S. Senate will still be controlled by Democrats but could grow to 51 if Warnock is re-elected. Republicans control the U.S. House.

Walker’s candidacy, launched following his endorsement by former President Donald Trump, has benefited from poor approval of the Democratic Party in general and President Biden specifically, according to pollsters, but that may not be enough to change how Georgia residents feel about the man Republicans have chosen as their next senator.

“Voters know the economy is rough, but a spate of scandals has destroyed Walker’s favorables with voters,” Cluverius said. “In a normal, textbook election, Warnock would look like a lame duck walking. Instead, he’s been able to avoid blame for rising prices and to keep voters — who are skeptical of Biden but don’t like Trump — in his corner. Right now, it looks like Warnock is in the driver’s seat.”

Walker, a Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL player, has run an unusual campaign. He has, at times, pontificated on things such as the relative strengths of mythical creatures like werewolves and vampires, but offered little in terms of policy. He has been simultaneously confronted by both a history of decrying abortion care — for any reason, no matter how dire — and a string of women who say he paid for them to receive such care, a fact he seems to have acknowledged.

The poll most likely comes as bad news for Republicans, who were hoping Walker’s presence in the senate would dilute the Democratic majority there enough they could keep Biden from filling the judiciary with partisan picks.

“In an evenly divided Senate, Democrats would still hold the majority as Vice President Kamala Harris, in her role as president of the chamber, would possess the tie-breaking vote when needed. With 51 seats however, Democrats would have a majority of the membership of all Senate committees, making it easier to advance the president’s nominees and legislation through the chamber’s processes,” pollsters said in a statement with the poll’s release.

The poll showed that support for Walker among women was especially weak compared to Warnock, with a 13 point deficit at 55% to 42%, while his support among men was actually better than the incumbent senator, 52% to 46%.

According to Ross Baker, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University, Walker’s campaign is uniquely his own. Senate leadership identified social security reform as their message for candidates, “but few if any GOP senatorial candidates have picked up on it.”

“Republican senators fashion their own messages to suit the circumstances of their elections. Some have chosen to use the same basic messages used by Donald Trump on subjects such as immigration and border security. Others have taken up the kind of message used by Glen Youngkin in his 2019 Virginia gubernatorial race that is fashioned around parental rights for what is taught to school-age children,” he said.


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