Georgia Democrats have been trying to paint Mary Norwood as a closet Republican for years. The poll released Friday by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV suggests it isn’t yet sticking in this year's race for Atlanta mayor.
The Landmark Communications poll, which pegged Norwood to a 6-point lead over Keisha Lance Bottoms, suggested the attacks have failed to stick.
It showed 42 percent of Democratic voters are backing Norwood, who is vying to be Atlanta’s first white mayor since 1973. About 21 percent of black voters are supporting her. The margin of error was about 4 percent.
“Bottoms still has a lot of work to do with Democrats,” said pollster Mark Rountree. “They’re using messaging that’s eight years old, and it’s not new news that they’re claiming she’s a Republican.”
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The Democratic Party of Georgia has sought to tie Norwood to the GOP since her 2009 runoff against Kasim Reed. The state party unleashed a new round of attacks this week, including a TV ad that links her to the president.
Bottoms has echoed that message as she leans on high-profile Democratic figures for support. She has the backing of disparate factions of the Democratic Party, including Reed and Jason Carter, the party’s 2014 gubernatorial nominee. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a potential 2020 nominee, is campaigning for her this weekend.
Norwood has long bristled at the attacks that she’s a closet Republican. She’s said she voted for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and calls herself a “progressive independent” who wants to maintain her political neutrality so she can better work across party lines.
And she’s played up her support from several prominent Democrats. They include former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and ex-City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, who both criticized the party this week for backing Bottoms.
The poll, the first to be conducted since Franklin and third-place finisher Cathy Woolard backed Norwood, could hint at the impact of their endorsements.
Norwood’s campaign hope both give wavering African American voters wary of voting against a Democrat, as well as liberal white voters in Atlanta’s eastside, leeway to back the councilwoman’s bid.
Rountree said the race is still very much in flux, and noted a late surge in advertising and campaign events could sway the outcome. The candidates are set for a final debate on WSB-TV on Sunday at 5 p.m.
“Get out the vote efforts can make a difference, news events over the weekend can make a difference, and advertising campaigns can make a difference,” he said. “It’s a generally close race – so nothing is set in stone.”
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