The explosive allegation that anti-abortion GOP Senate hopeful Herschel Walker paid for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion has consumed his campaign over the last week — but so far it hasn’t given his opponent much of a boost, a new poll showed Wednesday.
Walker’s rival, Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, still leads by seven percentage points, 52% to 45%, according to Quinnipiac University’s latest poll of likely voters in Georgia.
That spread is virtually unchanged from last month, when the pollster found Warnock led Walker 52% to 46%.
In the interim, Walker’s campaign has been rocked by a slew of incendiary accusations stemming from a Daily Beast report in which an anonymous woman said he had impregnated her and then paid for her to get an abortion in 2009.
Walker has denied the reports he paid for the abortion, calling the claim a “flat-out lie” and vowing to file a defamation suit, which he has not done.
The woman, who remains publicly unnamed, was later reported to be the mother of one of the children that Walker confirmed from the campaign trail were his. A former football star, entrepreneur and critic of absentee fathers, Walker previously had only publicly acknowledged one child, his adult son Christian Walker. As a Senate candidate, Walker has called for a total ban on abortion, and he recently said he has “always been for life.”
The younger Walker lashed out at his father after The Daily Beast’s story was published on Oct. 3, calling him a liar in a series of angry social media posts. Christian Walker also accused his father of being violent, neglectful and unfaithful to his family.
The woman told The New York Times that Walker had wanted her to get another abortion when she became pregnant again in 2011, but she refused and the relationship ended soon after. The woman also said that she had to press Walker to pay for the first abortion, The Washington Post reported.
Walker had previously said he did not know the woman’s identity, but told ABC News on Tuesday that he now knows who she is. “She’s lying,” Walker told ABC of the woman’s abortion claims.
Republicans leaders, including former President Donald Trump, have rallied around Walker, whose race in the key swing state could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate.
Warnock, meanwhile, has not spoken publicly about his opponent’s abortion scandal, even as outside groups produce ads highlighting the family drama.
Quinnipiac’s latest poll surveyed 1,157 likely Georgia voters between last Friday and Monday, days after the abortion scandal broke. The poll carries a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.9 percentage points.
The poll showed Warnock has an above-water favorability rating, 50% to 44%, while 39% have a favorable opinion of Walker and 55% have an unfavorable view of him.
Respondents also gave Walker poor marks on a suite of personal traits: 57% said he is not honest, 58% said he does not have good leadership skills and 50% said that he does not care about average Georgia residents.
“Despite repeated penalty flags flying at his honesty and integrity, Herschel Walker is down by seven in the 4th quarter and still has a shot against incumbent Raphael Warnock in Georgia’s Senate race,” Quinnipiac polling analyst Tim Malloy said in a press release.
Among Peach State Republicans, inflation is by far the top issue: 73% of them ranked it their most urgent concern, and no other issue garnered double digits, according to Quinnipiac. Democrats, meanwhile, ranked their top issue as abortion, followed by election laws, gun violence, health care, inflation and racial inequality.
Inflation is also by far the top issue for independents, 42% of whom put it first, the poll showed.
The survey also found Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a virtual tie with Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams, 50% to 49%. A RealClearPolitics polling average shows Kemp leading Abrams by a slightly wider margin.