AJC poll: Biden and Trump are deadlocked in battleground Georgia

A new Atlanta Journal-Constitution polls shows former President Donald Trump, left, and President Joe Biden with within the margin of error of 3.1 percentage points about a year ahead of the 2024 election. (Brendan Smialowski and Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

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A new Atlanta Journal-Constitution polls shows former President Donald Trump, left, and President Joe Biden with within the margin of error of 3.1 percentage points about a year ahead of the 2024 election. (Brendan Smialowski and Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

President Joe Biden is neck and neck with former President Donald Trump in Georgia one year ahead of the 2024 election in a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll that highlights the Democrat’s struggle to re-create the coalition of diverse liberal voters and moderate independents who powered his narrow 2020 win.

The two are essentially tied, with Trump at 45% and Biden at 44% — within the poll’s margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. Beyond the close dynamics of a potential rematch, the results illuminate other vulnerabilities that have dogged Biden’s campaign in a pivotal 2024 battleground.

Only about 30% of independent voters back Biden’s bid for a second term, while an additional one-fifth are undecided. Independents were a cornerstone of Biden’s base in 2020, when polls showed a clear majority supported his White House run.

And Biden has yet to consolidate the backing of Black Georgians, the bulwark of the Democratic electorate. Some 78% say they’ll vote for Biden next year, while 12% are behind Trump. Democrats in Georgia generally tally at least 90% support from Black voters.

“I absolutely worry Biden is too old. I don’t know if he knows what’s going on,” said Zina Mulbah, a city of South Fulton engineer who counts himself among Trump’s Black supporters. “He needs to rest and enjoy his retirement. Let’s put someone there who can run the country.”

Trump is not without significant problems of his own. Even as he retains rock-solid support among most GOP voters, about 70% of Georgians say the election-interference charges he faces in Fulton County are serious — including roughly 40% of Republicans and most independents.

And nearly 40% of Republicans say they won’t vote for a political candidate convicted by a jury of a felony crime, heightening the political consequences of the 91 felony charges Trump faces in Georgia and three other jurisdictions.

Credit: NYT

Credit: NYT

“To be perfectly honest, I don’t believe that I will ever vote for Trump. I did before, and I think he did a better job than he’s getting credit for,” said Carol Page, a Duluth retiree. “But I don’t care for what he’s done since he lost. Trump should have bowed out gracefully.”

Overall, about two-thirds of Georgians say a felony conviction should be a deal-breaker for a presidential contender. And nearly 70% of Georgians say Trump shouldn’t have pressed Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other state officials to overturn his 2020 defeat.

Sharp divides

The poll shows Biden and Trump are both unpopular, a sign that many voters dread a rematch between the two rivals. About 55% of Georgia voters give the Democratic incumbent unfavorable reviews while 57% have a poor impression of his Republican challenger.

Yet national and state polls point to another Biden-Trump contest in 2024 with Georgia again playing a central role. After Biden became the first Democratic nominee to capture Georgia since 1992, both parties see the state as one of just a handful of competitive battlegrounds in next year’s White House race.

Count Linda Hatcher of Floyd County among the Biden backers who believe the concerns about his age — the president would be 82 at the start of a second term — and his agenda are overblown. She singled out Biden’s efforts to lower costs for prescription drugs and work across the aisle with Republicans.

“I like that he’s put some class back in our No. 1 office,” she said of Biden. “I don’t know what everybody is complaining about. I think it’s been fine.”

Republican voters, meanwhile, voiced a range of concerns about Biden’s competence. Dawn Nguyen of DeKalb County began listing her issues with Biden before she stopped herself.

Credit: NYT

Credit: NYT

“Everything about President Biden concerns me,” said Nguyen, who owns a trucking firm. “You name it, that’s it. His age, his health, his standpoints. I’m really worried if he gets elected again.”

The race is also deadlocked in hypothetical matchups between Biden and two other Republicans who are badly trailing Trump in polls of likely GOP primary voters: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. (Haley fared slightly better with women than the other GOP candidates.)

Both DeSantis and Haley have marginally lower unfavorable ratings than Biden and Trump — and higher proportions of voters who said they didn’t know enough about either to form an opinion.

The poll involved 1,002 likely general election voters in Georgia, and the margin of error was 3.1 percentage points. It was conducted Oct. 26-Nov. 3 by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs.

Better off?

A key factor shaping Georgia’s political dynamics is that most voters have a dismal overall outlook, with an overwhelming 70% saying the nation is on the “wrong track.” That includes 43% of Democrats and 97% of Republicans. And 56% of Georgians disapprove of Biden’s performance.

On immigration, about half of Georgia voters — and most Republicans — describe the number of migrants seeking sanctuary in the U.S. as a crisis. An additional one-third call it a problem, though not a crisis, while 15% say it’s “not a problem at all.”

Jobs and the economy are the top concern for the overwhelming majority of Georgia voters, though most Republicans indicate immigration is also a “very important” priority. Three-quarters of Democrats say climate change and abortion are top issues.

Credit: Sawyer Roque | Special to GE Appliances, a Haier company

Credit: Sawyer Roque | Special to GE Appliances, a Haier company

Behind some of the pessimism is dissatisfaction with the nation’s economy. Roughly half of voters say they’re worse off than a year ago, while a third say their financial status is the same. Only 14% say they’re in a better economic situation.

Mulbah, the engineer, said the nation’s battle with rising inflation has taken a toll on the American psyche — especially for those who are already struggling financially.

“If you make more than $100,000 a year, you can handle it better. But my friends who make less don’t have that luxury. At the end of the day, when pockets get squeezed, it’s about what makes sense to you and your family,” he said of his support for GOP candidates.

Biden’s backers paint a rosier picture of a recent inflation slowdown and jobless rates that hover around 3% in Georgia.

“It’s never going to be where everyone is happy with it,” said Dwight Hooper, a Fayette County voter who sees Biden as a better choice than Trump. “You can always find something negative or positive about it.”

When he hears critiques of Biden, Hooper said he can’t help but summon up a saying the president often repeats.

“Don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative.”

Staff writer David Wickert contributed to this article.

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