Analysis: Is Biden really trailing Trump by double-digits in Georgia?

This combination of pictures shows former US President Donald Trump (L) and US President Joe Biden. (Brendan Smialowski and Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

This combination of pictures shows former US President Donald Trump (L) and US President Joe Biden. (Brendan Smialowski and Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

A New York Times/Siena College poll of battleground states released Monday is the latest one illustrating President Joe Biden’s struggles in Georgia. But is he really trailing former President Donald Trump by double-digits in the state, as the poll said?

Many senior Democrats in Georgia privately acknowledge Biden lags behind Trump, even with all the caveats about the reliability of polling six months ahead of the election.

Other recent polling data, too, show that the fragile coalition that propelled Biden’s narrow victory in 2020 is teetering, and party leaders have warned the angst over Biden’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war combined with voter apathy could amount to a “five-alarm fire” for Democrats in November.

Yet even many Republicans scoffed at poll crosstabs that showed Biden only pulling two-thirds of Black support in Georgia, along with his attracting hardly half of the voters in the Democratic strongholds of DeKalb and Fulton counties, and a minority of city-dwellers.

Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz, who has written extensively on Georgia politics, was particularly skeptical of the New York Times poll findings that Trump pulled about 20% support from Black voters. That would roughly double Black support for other GOP statewide candidates in recent Georgia elections.

“The real question is turnout,” he said. “There are certainly doubts about whether Democrats can mobilize Black voters and other parts of the base, and whether there is enough enthusiasm for his campaign. Some of them will come home, but others may not vote at all.”

Still, Abramowitz added, Biden risks backlash from other parts of the alliance of liberals, Black voters and more moderate suburbanites if he moves too aggressively to shore up his base of support.

“The problem for Biden is he can’t do much more to appeal to the party base without alienating swing voters,” said Abramowitz.

The consensus from several analysts from both parties: Biden is scuffling in Georgia, but he’s not plumbing the depths suggested in the poll, which pegged Trump with a 49% to 39% lead over the incumbent.

“Yes, I think Donald Trump has a lead. I’m cautiously optimistic, but we are not taking our foot off the gas,” Georgia GOP chair Josh McKoon told the Politically Georgia podcast.

“I mean, you look at the 2022 election, it’s obvious Georgia remains a center-right state,” McKoon said. “We’ve just got to go out and make sure we don’t leave anything on the table.”

What’s more, Trump’s campaign has yet to build out its operation in Georgia, relying heavily on the Georgia GOP instead, while there are about a dozen Biden staffers on the ground here already.

That’s what has U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia feeling optimistic as he looks to play a bigger role on the campaign trail for Biden, emphasizing the president’s green energy, higher education and infrastructure initiatives.

“I can tell you from personal experience, while you pay attention to polls, they don’t tell you as much as people do,” he said in an interview.

“I don’t think the forecast was terribly good for me at this point in my first race. I would be worried if we didn’t have a good story to tell about the work we have done. The good news is, we do.”

Other tidbits from the poll:

  • Only about one-third of voters approve of how Biden’s handling the job, compared to 61% who somewhat or strongly disapprove.
  • A plurality of Georgians (28%) view the economy, jobs and inflation as the most important issue in the election, which is typical at this stage in the election.
  • The second-most cited issue: immigration, which burst into the forefront after the slaying of Laken Riley, a nursing student who was killed while on a jog on the University of Georgia’s campus.
  • Fewer than 1% of respondents say that the Israel-Hamas war and the conflict in the Middle East is a top concern. More voters say they trust Trump (47%) than Biden (37%) to navigate the crisis.
  • A majority of Georgians (55%) say abortion should be “always” or “mostly” legal, compared with about one-third who want the procedure restricted or banned.

                        Donald Trump leads President Biden in five crucial battleground states, a new set of polls shows, as a yearning for change and discontent over the economy and the war in Gaza among young, Black and Hispanic voters threaten to unravel the president’s Democratic coalition. -- 4 x 10.6 -- cat=a


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