The View From Georgia: Approval of Political Leaders

September 7, 2021
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | Georgia | US Politics
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Georgia was one of the most closely-watched states in the 2020 Presidential and Senate Elections—and for good reason. President Joe Biden and Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, all Democrats, won the state by incredibly narrow margins, rendering the traditionally Republican-leaning state a new swing state. The latest research by Redfield & Wilton Strategies finds that views of President Joe Biden remain as divided as the 2020 vote count in Georgia, though the state’s Governor and Senators enjoy slightly more favourable approval ratings.

Georgians give President Joe Biden a net approval rating of +4%, with 44% approving and 40% disapproving of Biden’s overall job performance since he became President of the United States. A further 13% of respondents say they neither approve nor disapprove.

Notably, men (51%) are more likely than women (40%) to approve of Joe Biden; in fact, a plurality of women disapprove (45%) of his performance. Further, among respondents who voted for him in 2020, an overwhelming 83% approve of Joe Biden’s performance, compared to 77% of 2020 Donald Trump voters who disapprove.

In particular, Georgians express the greatest degree of approval of the Joe Biden Administration when it comes to its performance on the coronavirus pandemic, of which 45% approve—though a considerable 37% disapprove. The partisan divide is herein evident as well, with 81% of Biden voters saying they approve and 68% of Trump voters saying they disapprove of the Administration’s response to the pandemic.

With respect to the Administration’s economic policies, respondents are even more split: 39% disapprove and 38% approve of its performance on addressing unemployment, while 43% disapprove and 40% approve of the Joe Biden Administration’s performance on the economy. The latter realm sees the greatest proportion of Donald Trump voters disapproving, at 80%—including 61% who disapprove strongly. A clear division of views is also apparent with regard to the environment, as 34% both approve and disapprove, respectively, of the Administration’s performance in this policy area.

Respondents’ overall opinions turn slightly more negative when it comes to the Biden Administration’s housing policies, of which 39% of Georgians disapprove and 34% approve. Pluralities of respondents also disapprove of the Administration’s performance on defence (39%), crime/policing (41%), and immigration (44%). The heightened levels of disapproval in these regards suggest that Georgians are least content with the Administration’s actions on matters of security and immigration.

Disapproval is also considerable on matters of foreign policy, with pluralities disapproving of the Administration’s performance with respect to relations with China (39%) and relations with Russia (36%). 

Georgia’s Senators, both of whom have been in office for just seven months after winning runoff elections in January 2021, also achieve positive net approval ratings: 40% approve and 33% disapprove of Senator Jon Ossoff, and 39% approve and 31% disapprove of Senator Raphael Warnock, producing net approval ratings of +7% and +8%, respectively. Notable fifths of respondents say they neither approve nor disapprove of Ossoff’s (19%) and Warnock’s (21%) performances so far. 

Similar majorities of 2020 Joe Biden voters approve of Jon Ossoff’s (70%) and Raphael Warnock’s (71%) performances as Senators, while 2020 Donald Trump voters are slightly more likely to disapprove of Ossoff (60%) than Warnock (54%).

The Governor of Georgia, who will seek re-election in the November 2022 Gubernatorial Election, elicits a more positive net approval rating of +10%. 44% approve, 34% disapprove, and 16% neither approve nor disapprove of Brian Kemp’s overall job performance as Governor. A majority (53%) of Joe Biden voters disapprove, but a substantial 30% approve of the Republican Governor’s performance.

In fact, considerable proportions of 2020 Joe Biden voters also approve of Brian Kemp’s performance in specific policy areas, ranging from 24% who approve of his performance on immigration to 36% who approve of his performance on the economy. Accordingly, there appears to be a notable segment of Joe Biden voters who approve of Governor Brian Kemp and his policies. 2020 Donald Trump voters, meanwhile, are much more likely to approve of Kemp’s overall job performance (65%) and to approve of his performance in particular areas, including 60% who approve with respect to the economy.

Indeed, overall approval is highest for Kemp’s economic performance, with 45% approving and 31% disapproving of his record in this area. Pluralities of respondents also express approval when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic (43%), addressing unemployment (38%), and the environment (35%). Georgians are divided between approving (37%) and disapproving (37%) of the Governor’s performance on crime/policing, as well as on immigration (33% approve and 31% disapprove) and housing (34% approve and 31% disapprove).

Though Joe Biden and Brian Kemp are given the same net approval rating (+8%) for their performances on the pandemic, respondents give relatively more positive net approval ratings to Kemp in all other policy areas, indicating that the Governor is somewhat more popular than the President in many regards. The preference for Kemp’s performance is particularly clear with respect to the economy, an area in which the Governor receives a net approval rating of +14, compared to Biden’s -3%.

The mixed approval of the political leaders in Georgia is apparent, though Governor Brian Kemp enjoys the most positive net approval rating. Georgians overall appear most satisfied with the Joe Biden Administration’s performance on the coronavirus pandemic and least satisfied in the areas of security and immigration, while respondents express the greatest approval for Brian Kemp’s economic policies. With slight pluralities indicating they approve of Kemp’s performance in each policy area on which we polled, the Governor seems to be in a fairly good position to run for re-election next year.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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