Poll shows Hardie Davis leading Augusta mayor's race

Hardie Davis is the frontrunner in the Augusta mayoral race, according to a poll conducted for The Augusta Chronicle.

Thirty-six percent of voters polled by Atlanta polling firm InsiderAdvantage said they plan to vote for the state senator in the May 20 election. Nearest to Davis was businesswoman Helen Blocker-Adams, who 16 percent of the 449 people polled said they’d vote for.

With 27 percent saying they were still undecided and a 4 percent margin of error, the poll results indicate Davis could win the five-way race outright, or head into a July runoff with Blocker-Adams, said InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery.

“When you see someone at 36 percent and 27 percent still outstanding,” Towery said, “those are pretty hefty numbers for one candidate to have.”

Conducted Thursday evening, the automated poll used landline phone numbers of a random sample of registered voters weighted by their expected turnout based on age, race and gender.

Augusta Commissioner Alvin Mason and retired businessman Charles Cummings tied with 8 percent. Lori Myles, a Richmond County school teacher, got 5 percent.

Davis polled well among black voters, with 49 percent, while Blocker-Adams performed best with white voters, garnering 34 percent to Davis’ 19 percent. Blocker-Adams saw only 4 percent support from black voters who comprise 51 percent of the voting-age population.

“I find that number of 4 percent very low and that is surprising, considering how much I’ve done in the community,” Blocker-Adams said. “We’ve always been considered the underdog; we’re just going to keep on fighting.”

Blocker-Adams said polling showed her in the single digits in 2005, when she garnered 23 percent of votes and narrowly missed a runoff in which Deke Copenhaver beat former interim mayor Willie Mays. Copenhaver, a thrice-elected mayor, is now term limited.

“It can change dramatically,” she said.

All the mayoral candidates are black in an election whose May 20 date, changed from November by the Georgia legislature, is the subject of a pending federal lawsuit with the potential to move the date. The lawsuit claims the date change diluted minority voting strength.

Davis also polled well among female voters, a group targeted by Blocker-Adams, who champions the idea of being Augusta’s first female mayor. He had 41 percent of the poll’s 233 females surveyed to Blocker-Adams’ 17 percent.

The InsideAdvantage poll results are “a testament to the work our team has done early on in assessing the electorate and decided who we needed to target,” Davis said.

Davis said he’ll step up efforts in coming days to increase support among younger voters, who backed Cummings, a former nightclub owner. Cummings garnered 38 percent of 50 polled voters ages 18-29, the most of any candidate. Blocker-Adams won over 32 percent and Davis had 30 percent.

“I think when young folks hear someone paying attention to their needs, they will reciprocate,” said Cummings, whose platform includes improving public transit and helping young people start businesses.

Myles said she expects voters who the poll didn’t reach to turn out for her.

“There a hidden turnout they will not see until May 20,” she said.

Mason did not return messages seeking comment.

 

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POLLS OPEN

• Advance voting continues this week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Augusta Municipal Building.

• Saturday voting will be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the municipal building, Diamond Lakes Regional Park, Henry Brigham Community Center and Warren Road Community Center.

• Advance voting will be offered from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 12-16 at all four locations. After that, no more in-person voting will be available until election day May 20, when all polling places will be open.

EARLY VOTING

Some 625 of Augusta-Richmond County registered voters cast advance ballots in the May 20 general primary, special election for mayor and four contested commission seats and sales tax referendum last week.

According to a report from Richmond County Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey, the weekly total included 487 casting a Democratic ballot, 123 voting Republican and 15 selecting the nonpartisan ballot.

According to the consolidated government’s voter statistics Web reports, 97,731 residents are registered to vote.

Mayor's Race Poll Results
Hardie Davis36 percent
Helen Blocker-Adams16 percent
Charles Cummings8 percent
Alvin Mason8 percent
Lori Myles5 percent
Undecided27 percent

*Telephone poll of 449 likely voters in the May 20 mayor election

Sales tax referendum poll

A poll on Augusta’s next sales tax referendum found supporters holding a lead, though lacking a majority and with many voters undecided.

The telephone poll of 449 likely voters conducted by InsiderAdvantage on Thursday found 42 percent in favor of the special purpose local option sales tax package and bond issue and 35 percent against, with a 4 percent margin of error. Twenty-three percent were undecided.

InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery said he chose words to use in the automated poll carefully – “a little bit of sweet and a little bit of sour” – because voters of every stripe generally have a tough time approving any tax.

The poll question, which mentioned funds for public safety, roads, bridges and economic development, found the most support among younger and white voters. Nearly half of those ages 18-44 supported the package, and 47 percent of white voters favored it. Only 31 percent of white voters opposed the sales tax extension and bond issue.

Among black voters, 38 percent supported the new 1 percent sales tax, which would replace the current tax in 2016. Thirty-nine percent were opposed.

Genderwise, male voters were more in favor of the sales tax package (46 percent) than female voters (38 percent).

 

InsiderAdvantage asked whether likely voters would vote for (yes) or against (no) the new special purpose local option sales tax package.

Yes 42 percent

No 35 percent

Undecided 23 percent

SPLOST 7: Questions and Answers
CHART: Poll numbers breakdown of the 5-candidate mayoral race
DATA: Complete data set based on poll of

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