President Donald Trump at a Rose Garden event on Friday in Washingto. Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS
Photo: Olivier Douliery/TNS
Photo: Olivier Douliery/TNS

The Jolt: In leaked poll, Trump also trailed Biden in Georgia, North Carolina

President Donald Trump may have a Southern problem.

On Sunday, NBC News reported that the president’s re-election campaign would cut ties with some of its own pollsters after leaked internal polling showed Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in 2020 battleground states.

Much of the attention was given to results in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan — where Trump beat Hillary Clinton with narrow but decisive margins that handed him the White House.

Less attention was paid to the fact that in that leaked poll data, which Trump campaign officials say is outdated, Trump trailed Biden by 8 points in North Carolina and 6 points in Georgia.

With the exceptions of 1976 (Jimmy Carter) and 1992 (Bill Clinton), Republicans have had a lock on the South since the Civil Rights era in the 1960s.

Trump won North Carolina in 2016 with 50.5% of the vote. He took Georgia by 51.3%.

But both states have large urban populations, and equally large suburbs, where Republican support among college-educated women diminished sharply in the 2018 mid-terms.

President Trump will kick off his 2020 re-election bid on Tuesday with a rally in Florida.

***

Georgia may not participate in next year’s March 3 presidential voting spree, commonly dubbed Super Tuesday. Our AJC colleague Mark Niesse reports that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger won’t set the date for Georgia’s presidential primary until new voting machines are in place.

Since 1992, with two exceptions, every presidential primary in Georgia has been held on the first Tuesday of March. In 2008, it occurred on Feb. 5. In 2000, it was March 7 – the latest date for a Georgia primary in those 24 years.

Originally, Super Tuesday was a mostly Southern affair, intended to increase the clout of a region many candidates ignored. But in 2020, Super Tuesday had already expanded into a coast-to-coast affair, with California also moving up its primary to March 3, intended to increase the influence of that heavily Democratic state.

Niesse reports that the delay in Georgia has raised concerns from some county election directors, who said they might have to move polling places if churches and other facilities are booked before an election date is announced.

The uncertainty could also impact the travel schedules of 2020 presidential candidates, who may trim Georgia from their itineraries in order to concentrate on states that will have the earlier, and thus more crucial, impact on their campaigns.

One thing you’re not likely to see is an attempt to pair the presidential primary with the state’s general primary in mid-May. We’re told that, despite the added cost, state election officials prefer a first test of new machines with only one race on the ballot.

***

According to Reporter Newspapers, Sandy Springs Councilmember Andy Bauman has proposed a hate crimes ordinance that would create stronger penalties for local crimes based on race, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, among others. Similar legislation passed the state House earlier this year, and now awaits deliberation in the state Senate.

The Sandy Springs proposal, to be discussed at a work session on Tuesday, would also require the city’s police department to track hate crimes and relay the information to both the GBI and FBI.

***

On Friday’s edition of GPB’s “Political Rewind,” conversation touched on Republican strategist Eric Tanenblatt’s interest in autonomous vehicles. (At Dentons, he heads up the Atlanta law firm’s global autonomous vehicle practice.) Here’s a paragraph from a post Tanenblatt wrote last week for the Saporta Report:

According to initial MARTA estimates, light rail on the BeltLine will cost upwards of $570 million and be complete, assuming funding gaps are closed, sometime around 2045. Autonomous shuttles, on the other hand, can provide transportation on the entire BeltLine for a fraction of the cost, and be accomplished within a decade. How? Each shuttle costs approximately $500,000. At that price, MARTA could purchase over 1,100 self-driving shuttles for the same price as it plans to spend on just 7 miles of light rail along the BeltLine.

***

The New York Times’ Kenneth Vogel drew our attention to a recent letter to federal election regulators sent on behalf Tom Price. The former Georgia congressman and health secretary would like to use the leftover money in his campaign account – nearly $1.8 million – to start a nonprofit that would promote his speaking career.

Federal law allows former candidates to use leftover campaign funding to mount future runs for federal office, donate to other candidates or political parties or give to charity. They can’t use the money for personal expenses.

Vogel also notes the lawyer who authored the letter to the Federal Election Commission is Stefan Passantino, the longtime Atlanta attorney who left his gig as the White House’s deputy counsel for ethics last summer. 

***

A veteran Georgia Republican strategist will have a prominent role in a political action committee dedicated to President Donald Trump’s re-election. America First Action PAC announced that it’s hired Leigh Ann Wood Gillis as its finance director. Gillis has worked for Saxby Chambliss, John McCain, Karen Handel and both Perdue cousins over the years. Gillis’ new gig will focus on meeting America First’s ambitious $300 million fundraising goal over the next year.

***

In Sunday’s column, we pointed you to an effort endorsed by the leadership of the Gwinnett GOP to rally Republicans behind Georgia’s new “heartbeat” law. In a GOP primary, that could benefit state Sen. Renee Unterman of Buford, who carried HB 481 in the Senate.

But an invitation to a June 25 fundraiser tells us that Republican rival Lynne Homrich will have access to the monied crowd within the Georgia GOP. Hosts of the event include Health care magnate Rick Jackson, a Georgia GOP mega-donor; Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler and her husband Jeff Sprecher, head of Intercontinental Exchange and chair of the New York Stock Exchange; and Carol Stewart, a former Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. 

***

Last week we described U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath’s cautious approach to the House’s impeachment debate. The Times over the weekend showed that the Marietta Democrat is far from alone when it comes to the 40-some other freshmen Democrats who flipped GOP seats last year:

The Times interviewed 15 majority makers, nearly all freshmen, for this article. Only one, Representative Tom Malinowski of New Jersey, has already called for an impeachment inquiry. All seemed deeply troubled — “incredibly concerned,” said Representative Angie Craig of Minnesota — by Mr. Mueller’s findings that the president may have obstructed justice. But they saw no need to rush, and said Congress must bring the public along.

***

Former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican who was vice chair of the Intelligence Committee, appeared on MSNBC’s “Kasie DC” on Sunday to address President Trump’s suggestion -- retracted the next day -- that he might take opposition research from a foreign power in the next campaign. 

“The first thing I’d say is, if you're president, you don't do a 30-hour interview,” Chambliss began. “You're going to say something you wish you could grab back.”

Chambliss said it “was a mistake to say this, I mean, clearly.” The former Georgia senator also said it was a “sad state of affairs” that there could be a need for a bill by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., requiring campaigns notify the FBI if they were offered election aid by other countries.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X