ATLANTA — Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger holds a double-digit lead over Democrat Bee Nguyen in his reelection campaign, gaining support across party lines after standing up to then-President Donald Trump, according to a new poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Raffensperger, whose reelection chances earlier this year appeared iffy in the fallout of the 2020 election, is ahead of Nguyen 46% to 32% among those polled by the AJC. About 15% of voters are undecided, and 7% favored Libertarian Ted Metz.
The incumbent’s advantage is larger than that of candidates in tight races for the U.S. Senate, governor and lieutenant governor, all of which are within 5 percentage points.
Raffensperger became a household name after he refused Trump’s demands to “find” votes and “recalculate” results in Georgia that showed Democrat Joe Biden won by about 12,000 votes in 2020. Raffensperger’s insistence that the election results were correct angered Trump’s supporters and led to a primary challenge by Republican U.S. Rep. Jody Hice.
But Raffensperger emerged from the primary with a resounding victory, and he has now unified most Republicans and won over some liberals and moderates. About 16% of Democrats surveyed supported Raffensperger along with 35% of voters who identified themselves as independents.
The AJC poll surveyed 902 likely voters from July 14 to July 22. The poll has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points and was conducted by the University of Georgia’s School of Policy and International Affairs.
Strong backing for Raffensperger coincided with a substantial number of voters rejecting candidates who say they believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. About 49% of voters were less likely to support candidates who say the election was stolen, while 36% said it doesn’t make a difference. Just 13% said they were more likely to back those candidates.
Eric Lee, who runs a custom furniture business in Marietta, said he plans to vote for Raffensperger despite reservations about how he handled the 2020 election.
“It really is not so much him. I just don’t want a Democrat,” Lee said. “I have a lot of doubt about the 2020 election; however, no one has proven to me yet it was stolen. It’s time to move on.”
While roughly 1 in 6 Democratic voters in the poll said they preferred Raffensperger, 69% are standing behind Nguyen and 12% are undecided. Nguyen won over three-quarters of the vote in a Democratic runoff last month against Dee Dawkins-Haigler.
“Brad didn’t buckle to Trump, and I do respect him for that. He did his job,” said Debbie Rose, a Harris County resident who is retired from a job in billing for a dermatology practice. “But I’m obviously going to vote for a Democrat. After those four horrible years (when Trump was president), I’m going to vote a straight ticket.”
Randy Mygrant, a retired technician from Perry, said he respects Raffensperger but dislikes his support for Georgia’s new voting law, which tightened regulations on absentee ballots by restricting drop boxes, requiring additional voter ID and shortening the period to request and return absentee ballots.
“Raffensperger is honest about the election being legal, but he sits on his hands while other things happen, so I’m leaning the other way,” said Mygrant, who considers himself a moderate. “At least he has some morals about him.”
In other Georgia races, the AJC poll showed that fewer voters are willing to cross party lines, and their intraparty support was also stronger than Raffensperger’s 77% backing among Republicans.
For example, Gov. Brian Kemp garnered support from 93% of Republicans, and 2% of GOP voters picked Democrat Stacey Abrams in the poll. The rest were undecided or preferred third-party candidates. Among Democrats, 91% chose Abrams and 3% said they would vote for Kemp.