Georgia’s Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock opened up a 12-point lead against his Republican challenger Herschel Walker, according to a SurveyUSA poll released Wednesday, amid mounting scandals accusing Walker, a staunch anti-abortion candidate, of paying for his girlfriend’s abortion in 2009 and not providing for his four children.
The SurveyUSA poll put Warnock, Georgia’s first-term Senator and a Baptist pastor, ahead of Walker, a former University of Georgia running back, 50% to 38% among more than 1,000 likely voters, in the new poll, conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 4.
The double-digit lead comes amid a series of controversies, including a Daily Beast report on Tuesday claiming that in 2009 Walker paid for his then girlfriend to get an abortion because he didn’t want a child, though in the years since, Walker has called for a nationwide abortion ban without exceptions for rape, incest, or threats to a mother’s life—Walker denied the allegation.
Following the report, Walker’s son and conservative social media star Christian Walker released several videos on social media accusing Walker of committing “atrocities” against his mother and “having sex with other women” instead of raising his children.
In the survey, which began before the latest Walker scandal broke but ended a day after, Warnock held a larger lead among women voters in Georgia, who favor him 57% to 28%, while men are split at 44%, according to the new poll.
Some 51% of respondents had an “unfavorable” opinion of Walker, compared to 28% that found him “favorable,” while 40% said Warnock was unfavorable, and 43% said he was favorable.
Less than a third of independents said they would vote for Warnock, along with 21% who identified as moderate, 75% of Republicans and 69% of respondents who identify as conservatives.
Walker has fallen substantially from polling in June, when he was locked at a 47% tie with Warnock, according to an East Carolina University poll. The Trump-endorsed candidate had won the state’s Republican primary in a landslide one month earlier, winning 68.2% of the vote. The former Heisman Trophy winner has been mired in controversy throughout his candidacy, however, including allegations of stalking and physical threats, as well as domestic violence against multiple women, including his ex-wife. Walker told Axios last December he is “accountable” for his history of violence, blaming the incidents on mental health issues. According to the Daily Beast report this week, Walker—a self-described family man—paid his former girlfriend $700 to cover the cost of an abortion and gave her a get-well card.
Aggregate polling data from FiveThirtyEight had Warnock just two points ahead of Walker in the popular vote, leading 50.2% to 48.2% —other recent polls in FiveThirtyEight’s indicator peg Warnock with a narrower lead, while a University of Georgia poll shows Walker two points ahead.
Despite the growing criticisms over Walker, who described himself on the campaign trail as a family man, Republicans this week doubled down on their support, with National Republican Senate Committee chair Rick Scott saying Republicans will “stand with” Walker and “Georgians will stand with him, too.”
Republican lawmakers are looking to the midterm elections to flip the Senate, which is currently split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. Democrats, however, are counting on several races, including in Georgia, to keep control of the chamber. Other close races include the Pennsylvania Senate race, where Republican candidate and former TV personality Mehmet Oz is trailing in the polls, Wisconsin, where incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R) holds a narrow lead, and Ohio, where Republican nominee J.D. Vance is trailing in the race for an open seat.