PG A.M.: New AJC presidential poll underscores Biden’s challenge in Georgia

Your daily jolt of news and analysis from the AJC politics team

The latest Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll out this morning offers a status check on where the race for the White House stands in Georgia.

Former President Donald Trump has a five-point advantage over President Joe Biden, echoing other polls that show the Democrat incumbent at a single-digit deficit against his rival.

His support among young voters has cratered and his strength with Black Georgians — the party’s most dependable constituency — appears to be softening.

And voters overwhelmingly say jobs and the economy are their top concern in Georgia, while most see abortion as a second-tier issue despite Democratic efforts to push it to the forefront.

But you won’t find signs of panic in the Biden campaign, which has scheduled a blitz of small-scale events across the state this week.

As the poll percolated this morning, Democrats noted that Trump’s paltry 9% showing among Black Georgians runs counter to the GOP buzz that he’s making inroads with voters of color.

(As we’ve long noted, Democrats are less concerned about Biden losing Black votes to Trump and more concerned about losing Black votes to apathy.)

And they circulated other polls showing Biden with a larger edge over Trump with young voters.

“Georgia is a clear toss-up, and our campaign is going to continue to work hard, invest and earn every vote all while Trump takes the state for granted — just like we did in 2020,” said Porsha White, the Biden campaign’s state director for Georgia.

Trump’s campaign, meanwhile, projected an aura of strength in Georgia. His aides boasted of strong turnout at a Cherokee County office opening last night, along with big crowds planned at other office debuts in metro Atlanta and Columbus slated for this week.

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CNN anchors Jake Tapper (left) and Dana Bash (right) are moderating the presidential debate on Thursday.

Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP

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Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP

YOUR TURN. What would you ask President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump at Thursday night’s debate if you were a moderator? Would you ask about the economy? Immigration? Abortion? Jan. 6?

Just send a note to our email addresses listed below, and we’ll use your ideas for our coverage. We want to hear from you.

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge to the statewide election of members of the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

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Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

SCOTUS NO-GO. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal of a case alleging that statewide Georgia Public Service Commission elections illegally weaken Black voting strength.

The court’s decision likely ends the case and leaves in place a system that resulted in Republicans holding all five seats on the agency that regulates electricity and natural gas, the AJC’s Mark Niesse reports.

Georgia’s majority-white voting population has always outnumbered its Black minority, leading to just one Black candidate winning election in the commission’s 145-year history.

A federal judge had ruled in 2022 that at-large elections for PSC seats discriminated against Black voters, but the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision last year. The Supreme Court didn’t provide a reason why it won’t consider the appeal of the 11th Circuit’s order.

Elections for PSC were already canceled this year because of the court case, leaving two PSC members in office after their six-year terms have expired. No one has been elected to the PSC since 2020.

Statewide special primary elections for the PSC will be held for two seats in June 2025, followed by general elections for those seats in November 2025, according to legislation passed this year, House Bill 1312. The seats up for election next year are currently held by Republicans Tim Echols and Fitz Johnson.

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Shawn Harris, a Democrat and former Army brigadier general, is running against U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome.

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

MTG CHALLENGER. Former Army Brig. Gen. Shawn Harris won the 14th Congressional District Democratic runoff last week and will take on U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, in November.

According to the Rome News-Tribune, the Rockmart-based cattle farmer said last week he wants to reach out to all voters in the district who don’t feel represented by the headline-grabbing congresswoman.

“We’re bringing all the Democrats together,” Harris said last week. “But for me to win in November, we’re also going to need independents and the people disenfranchised with Marjorie Taylor Greene. I’m their candidate. That’s why I’m always talking about ‘Leadership matters. Integrity matters. Character matters.’”

Money also matters in campaigns and Greene’s challengers have usually had an easy time raising it. Harris raised a solid $435,000 ahead of the primary, while Greene raised more than $5 million this cycle and has about $1.2 million cash on hand.

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Legislation introduced by state Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon, led to the creation of a nonprofit to provide affordable housing.

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

MACON TROUBLE. A nonprofit created by legislation introduced by state House Minority Leader James Beverly in 2012 to provide affordable housing in Macon’s Pleasant Hill neighborhood cannot say how it has spent millions in government money, nor even afford an audit to find out.

That’s according to the first of a multipart series published by the Macon Newsroom Monday, which has followed the rise and recent troubles of the Macon-Bibb Community Enhancement Authority for years.

Along with writing the legislation that created the CEA, Beverly is also its former executive director. Its finances have grown so dire that Macon-Bibb County recently agreed not to give “another dime” to the group.

Bruce Riggins, the authority’s board chairman, said some of the group’s money “might have been misplaced.” He also told the publication that under previous executive directors, money granted from the Georgia Department of Transportation to build houses in the neighborhood may have been used to “keep other stuff going.”

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Former UGA football star Malcolm Mitchell is pictured reading his new book to pre-K students from Heards Ferry Elementary School last month.

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

READING CHAMPS. State House Speaker Jon Burns, R-Newington, and state Sen. Billy Hickman, R-Statesboro, joined former University of Georgia football star Malcolm Mitchell to launch the Georgia Reads Campaign on Monday during the Georgia Municipal Association Convention in Savannah.

Mitchell, a Valdosta native, is a children’s book author and the founder of the youth literacy initiative “Reading with Malcolm.” He led a discussion with Burns and Hickman, along with other guests, during the GMA convention.

Hickman chairs the Senate Committee on Higher Education and sits on the Georgia Council on Literacy. His wife is a former school teacher and he’s championed reading since being elected to the state Senate in 2020.

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Atlanta Track Club CEO Rich Kenah is a guest today on the "Politically Georgia" show.

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

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Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

LISTEN UP. Today on “Politically Georgia,” former Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan shares his thoughts on what President Joe Biden needs to do to win Thursday night’s debate against former President Donald Trump.

Also, Atlanta Track Club CEO Rich Kenah talks about why so many local politicians can’t resist the Peachtree Road Race.

Listen live at 10 a.m. on WABE 90.1 or follow “Politically Georgia” on Apple PodcastsSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

On Monday’s show, the focus was on the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning federal protections to abortions under Roe v. Wade. The AJC’s Maya T. Prabhu gave us the status of challenges to Georgia’s six-week abortion ban.

Two state senators on different sides of the issue also lent their perspectives. Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, has worked to expand abortion access in Georgia while Sen. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, sponsored the abortion law now in effect.

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Former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, spoke about restrictive abortion laws passed by Republicans at an event on Monday.

Credit: Seeger Gray/AJC

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Credit: Seeger Gray/AJC

CELEBRATING DOBBS. While Democrats were vocal on Monday’s anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade repeal,  highlighting restrictive abortion laws passed in Republican-led states in the two years since, GOP lawmakers were mostly silent on the issue. They know that polling shows their position has been weak, and it has led to defeats at the ballot box.

Which made the email that U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde sent to his constituents Monday all the more surprising. The conservative Republican who represents northeast Georgia leaned all the way in, praising the Supreme Court for its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision and highlighting the role that three justices appointed by former President Donald Trump had in making it possible.

U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, supports abortion restrictions.

Credit: AP

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Credit: AP

“On June 24th, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Dobbs ruling rightfully overturned Roe v. Wade, saving countless innocent lives,” Clyde wrote. “In doing so, the Supreme Court finally dismantled the nearly five decades-long unconstitutional justification of the murder of millions of innocent babies. In the face of immense national pressure and radical pro-abortion mobs, Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett stood firm in their decision to repeal Roe.”

Clyde also said he supports legislation that would designate that life begins at conception, which could have broad impact not only on abortion access in states where it is permitted but also limit in vitro fertilization and other fertility treatments.

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Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt, who attended the University of Georgia, is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill.

Credit: AP

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Credit: AP

TODAY IN WASHINGTON:

  • President Joe Biden is at Camp David prepping for Thursday’s debate.
  • The House has evening votes scheduled on foreign policy legislation.
  • Former Olympian swimmers Michael Phelps and Allison Schmitt testify during a meeting of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations about anti-doping efforts ahead of the 2024 Paris games.
  • The Senate is in recess until July 8.

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U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (front, left), D-Ga., is an inaugural member of the Head Start to Congress Caucus.

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

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Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

HEAD START CAUCUS. U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is one of the few members of Congress to have attended Head Start, a federal preschool program for low-income children. And now, the Georgia Democrat is an inaugural member of the Head Start to Congress Caucus, a bipartisan group of members who have ties to the program and are touting its benefits.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Head Start, and as an alum, I know how important strong federal investments in early childhood education are to help foster successful futures for our children,” Warnock said in a news release.

The co-chairs of the new caucus, U.S. Reps. Teresa Leger Fernández, D-New Mexico, and Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, also attended Head Start.

The group celebrated its launch last week with an event at the Capitol attended by families and instructors at a Head Start facility outside of Washington.

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AS ALWAYS, Politically Georgia readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to greg.bluestein@ajc.com, tia.mitchell@ajc.com, patricia.murphy@ajc.com and adam.vanbrimmer@ajc.com.