Trump’s influence in Georgia tested as his GOP picks differ in polls

Donald Trump is trying to influence elections in Georgia ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, and recent polls show he’s having varying degrees of success.

Herschel Walker, who Trump endorsed in the Peach State Republican primary for the Senate, has a huge lead among his competitors in a new survey by the Trafalgar Group. Meanwhile, Trump-backed David Perdue trails incumbent Brian Kemp in the gubernatorial primary.

Despite his absence, Trump asserts his influence over the Republican Party through dozens of endorsements. He has endorsed more than 50 candidates in federal elections, as well as in 13 gubernatorial races across the country. The former president touts his picks as the “strongest” in American political history.

But in some cases, Republican figures like Mitch McConnell are reportedly working quietly to thwart Trump’s efforts as the party aims to regain control of Congress in the November election.

According to the Trafalgar poll, Walker has 70% support among likely voters; the second-place candidate, Gary Black, had 6% support. Twenty percent of likely primary voters said they were undecided.

Walker, 59, declared his candidacy in August 2021 for the seat held by Democrat Raphael Warnock. He already had Trump’s backing before entering the race, with Trump declaring in March that year that Walker would be “unstoppable, just like he was when he played for the Georgia Bulldogs and in the NFL.”

Former President Donald Trump’s influence in Georgia is being tested as his two Republican picks differ in polls and fundraising. In this photo, Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker, right, speaks during a rally with Trump on September 25, 2021 in Perry, Georgia.
Sean Rayford/GETTY IMAGES

In the race for governor, Kemp led the Republican primary poll with 49% support from likely voters. Perdue, a former US senator who was defeated by Democrat Jon Ossoff in 2020, had 40% of likely voters supporting him.

Trump encouraged Perdue to challenge Kemp, who angered Trump in the 2020 election. Kemp pushed back against Trump’s baseless claims that his loss in the Peach State to Joe Biden was due to fraud widespread election. Several audits and recounts of the race have only reaffirmed Biden’s victory.

Jay Williams, a Republican strategist in Georgia, said Newsweek he thinks Walker would be ahead in the Senate race, regardless of Trump’s endorsement.

But the endorsement could carry more weight in the governor’s race, he said.

“The [former] The president hasn’t been shy about saying that Brian Kemp is his number one target in the Republican primaries, that definitely helps Perdue,” Williams said. If Trump wasn’t behind Perdue, Perdue would have a hard time unseating Brian Kemp. It’s just a fact.”

Perdue is also trailing Kemp in fundraising so far. The current governor raised more than $7.4 million between July 1 and the end of January, while Perdue raised just over $1 million between his campaign launch in early December 2021 and the end of January.

Walker, on the other hand, raised $5.35 million in the last three months of last year, according to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission. Walker also had about $5.4 million in cash at the start of 2022.

The Trafalgar Group surveyed 1,072 likely Republican primary voters between February 12 and February 13, 2022. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 2.99 percentage points.

Newsweek contacted Trump’s Save America PAC to comment on the poll, but did not receive a response before publication.

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