Then there is the problem of what the Collins campaign calls the “liberal basketball team,” the Atlanta Dream. The Collins team says the basketball team has worked with Planned Parenthood, partnered with a gun control group and hosted a courtside event for Ms. Abrams.
At the same time, Ms. Loeffler is facing a revolt from the Dream’s players. The team name is an overt nod to Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous civil rights speech, and most of its players are Black. When the W.N.B.A. dedicated its season to Black Lives Matter, Ms. Loeffler wrote a letter to the league’s commissioner saying she was opposed because the movement “advocated for the defunding of police” and accused B.L.M. of promoting “violence and destruction.”
In response, W.N.B.A. players, led by members of the Dream, began wearing T-shirts declaring “Vote Warnock,” a reference to the Democratic preacher running against Ms. Loeffler.
Ms. Loeffler has the benefit of self-funding, to the tune of at least $15 million. Her ads have drawn attention to her constituent services and attacked Mr. Collins for a “politically correct” 2010 vote for a bill that would have outlawed carrying a gun into private schools.
She has also used her ads to underscore her right-wing credentials. One recent spot riffs humorously on the conceit that Ms. Loeffler is “more conservative than Attila the Hun.” In it, an actor playing Attila, speaking in a grunting, made-up language, dictates a to-do list to an underling. The list includes “attack big government” and “eliminate the liberal scribes.”
Ms. Loeffler’s run-to-the-right strategy appears to be working so far, at least among Republicans: A poll released on Sept. 29 by Quinnipiac University showed her leading Mr. Collins by a point, 23 percent to 22 percent, though Mr. Warnock led the field with 31 percent, evidence that Democratic voters are consolidating behind him.
A previous poll, conducted in mid-September by The New York Times and Siena College, showed Ms. Loeffler ahead of the pack of candidates, with 23 percent support. The poll showed Mr. Collins with 19 percent support, tied with Mr. Warnock, while 27 percent of respondents said they were undecided.