Poll: Kemp, Abrams neck and neck in Georgia governor's race

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The race between Republican candidate Brian Kemp and Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams to be Georgia's next governor is neck and neck, a new poll of likely voters finds.

The new poll by Opinion Savvy shows a difference of less than 1 percent in the race between Secretary of State Kemp and former state House minority leader Abrams.

With the Nov. 6 special election two weeks away, the poll shows Kemp slightly in the lead with 48.4 percent and Abrams at 47.7 percent. Libertarian candidate Ted Metz is polling at 1.3 percent.

Less than 3 percent of the likely voters surveyed are undecided.

RELATED: The duel for Georgia's governor heats up

Early voting has already begun in the state and will run until Nov. 2. According to the Georgia Secretary of State's Office, 632,157 ballots have already been cast as of Oct. 22.


If the polling numbers stand like they are, political analysts for Opinion Savvy said there could be a good chance of a runoff.

The analysts say neither candidate seems to have any major momentum advantage at this point.

Abrams leads the numbers in early voting, which the Opinion Savvy analysts expected. They say for Kemp to win outright, he would need to improve his numbers with the quickly-shrinking number of independent voters in the state.

MORE: Poll: Georgia's Governor's race virtually tied

A previous poll by the research company Ipsos found the top issues for likely Georgia voters to be healthcare and the economy. According to the survey, 43 percent of likely voters feel Abrams has the better health care policy, while 38 percent say Kemp has the better policy.

On the key issue of immigration, the Ipsos poll found 46 percent of likely voters feel that Kemp has a better policy, while 36 percent feel that Abrams has the better policy.

In a live debate Tuesday night, the candidates sparred over topics that have brought the race into the media spotlight. 

The candidates addressed the reported 53,000 voter applications currently on hold, a reported 70 percent of which are minority voters.

"Voter suppression isn't only about blocking the vote. It's also about creating  an atmosphere of fear, making people worried their votes won't count," Abrams said.

"[Abrams'] canvassers didn't fill the form out correctly. They couldn't get the last four digits of the social [security number]," Kemp said, and stated pending applications are normal when record numbers of millions have registered to vote. "we are following the law in Georgia," he said. 

Kemp Tuesday night continued to promote his defense of conservative values and less government expansion to boost the economy and jobs.

"I know how to create jobs... expanding government programs is not the way to do it,"  Kemp said. 

Abrams, rather, strongly touted expansion of Medicaid as a way to increase healthcare access and jobs for Georgians.

 "We have to expand Medicaid. That's creating 500,000 new jobs. That's putting money into communities," Abrams said. 

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump tweeted that Kemp "has been successful at whatever he has done, and has prepared for this very difficult and complex job for many years" and said that Abrams "would destroy a great state!"

Kemp caught Trump's attention early in the campaign to become the Republican gubernatorial candidate with a series of striking campaign ads where he discussed a strong support for the Second Amendment and a tough stance on immigration.

RELATED: President Trump endorses Brian Kemp in Georgia governor's race

Meanwhile, Abrams is running on a progressive platform and described herself as an unapologetic liberal. She opposes "religious freedom" laws that allow private businesses to refuse service based on religious beliefs, which aligns her with incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal, who vetoed such legislation.

Abrams has received the endorsements of former presidents Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter as well as former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Kemp has portrayed Abrams as "too extreme for Georgia," saying she has received funding from "California and New York." Abrams has painted Kemp as an incompetent chief elections officer who has been intent on suppressing and disenfranchising minority voters.

The last Democratic governor in the Peach State was Roy Barnes, who was elected in 1998, so many analysts suggest this race is an indicator of the changing political landscape in the state.

MORE: Cory Booker rallies for Stacey Abrams in Atlanta

Opinion Savvy's poll included 824 likely voters and was conducted on Oct. 21 and 22. It has a statistical margin of error of 3.4 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.