The Jolt: Poll shows Trump could be drag for Georgia general election candidates

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
10/16/2020 -Macon, Georgia - U.S. Republican Senator David Perdue makes remarks at a President Donald Trump rally at Middle Georgia Regional Airport in Macon, Friday, October 16, 2020.  (Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

10/16/2020 -Macon, Georgia - U.S. Republican Senator David Perdue makes remarks at a President Donald Trump rally at Middle Georgia Regional Airport in Macon, Friday, October 16, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer /

No state will offer a bigger test of former President Donald Trump’s sway in 2022 than Georgia.

But there are signs that Trump’s influence among hardcore Georgia Republicans is starting to fade, while his general election brand could damage his own picks. The latest evidence of that came in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll publishing this morning, which also had bad news for President Joe Biden.

The poll found that only about 20% of registered Georgia voters said they’d be more likely to support a candidate endorsed by Trump, while 49% said they would be less likely to vote for someone with Trump’s blessing, and the rest not sure.

The most intense feelings were negative. 41% of registered voters said they would be much less likely to pick a Trump-backed candidate, while just 11% would be much more likely. Those numbers don’t bode well for a Trump-endorsed Republican in November in Georgia.

Of course, the numbers are a bit more encouraging for Trump among Republicans and will be especially relevant in the upcoming May primaries.

About 42% of Republicans said they’d be more likely to vote for one of his endorsed candidates, while about 15% said they would be less likely, and 43% aren’t quite sure.

A Quinnipiac University poll of Georgia voters found even sharper evidence that Trump’s blessing is losing its kick.

Half of likely GOP primary voters said if Trump endorsed a candidate, it didn’t make a difference to them, while 44% said they’re more likely to vote for that candidate and another 5% said they’re less likely.

Trump’s slate of endorsed candidates has set out to topple an incumbent Republican governor, unseat a GOP secretary of state, replace a lieutenant governor who wants the former president to fade away, and win a crowded U.S. Senate primary to take on Democrat Raphael Warnock.

Today’s poll shows if the election were held today, that could be a tall order.


Justice Stephen Breyer’s pending retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court provides President Joe Biden a chance to meet his promise to nominate a Black woman to the nation’s highest court. And Georgia experts point out that the state is fertile ground for talented Black jurists.

Among the names sent our way: U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner (Stacey Abrams’ sister), Georgia Supreme Court Justice Verda Colvin, DeKalb Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson and Nancy Abudu, a Southern Poverty Law Center attorney who is a pending nominee to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Abrams Gardner has been on multiple national lists circulating, but an early favorite seems to be Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who Biden appointed last year to the all-important U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.


UNDER THE GOLD DOME, (Legislative Day 8):

  • 8:00 a.m.: Committee meetings begin;
  • 10:00 a.m.: The House gavels in;
  • 1:00 p.m.: The Senate convenes.


Look for the House to take up its first cityhood bill soon to put creating the City of East Cobb on the 2022 ballot for a local referendum.

Unlike the proposed “Buckhead City,” the City of East Cobb would incorporate parts of unincorporated Cobb County, leaving the question of schools, bonds and other commitments at the county level where they already reside.


POSTED: House Speaker David Ralston introduced his omnibus mental health care overhaul Wednesday as promised.

At a Capitol press conference, Ralston explained why he’s taking the unusual step of introducing the bill himself.

“There is no issue — and I want to be very clear — there is no issue this session more important to me than this issue,” Ralston said. “I am tired of telling desperate, hurting families that we have no treatment options available in Georgia. I am tired of looking in the faces of mothers who have lost a child because they saw no hope, and I’m tired of seeing the faces of those whose spiral downward has been fed by substance abuse.”

Our colleague Maya Prabhu has the details of the bill and where it goes from here.


Paging Dr. Au…With several proposals to ban vaccine requirements being bandied about in the General Assembly, GPB’s Grant Blankenship asked state Sen. Larry Walker, R-Perry, about a bill he’s co-sponsoring that could eliminate all vaccine requirements.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever known us as a country to require proof of, say, diphtheria vaccination or any other kind of vaccination to be able to get public services or enter a public building,” Walker told Blankenship.

At least four doses of the diphtheria vaccine are required by age 4 in Georgia to attend public schools.

Sen. Michelle Au, an anesthesiologist, tweeted that answer out with a note: “Look, if you don’t know what diphtheria is, you could just ask—there are four physicians, a PA, and a dentist in the Georgia Senate chamber, and we are all very open to answering medical questions.”


You could almost feel the collective Republican eyeroll across Georgia Wednesday when a group with the twitter handle @StopBigMoney endorsed Stacey Abrams in her bid to unseat Gov. Brian Kemp.

It was a part of an endorsement from the left-leaning End Citizens United/Let America Vote, which promotes changes to campaign finance laws. In backing Abrams, the group cited her work on voting issues, Medicaid expansion and limiting “dark money” in politics. The group’s president said Abrams would work for the people of the state and not “big money special interests.”

The eyeroll, our campaign finance guru James Salzer notes, was as much about the Twitter handle as anything else because Abrams set Georgia campaign fundraising records when she ran for governor in 2018, an election she lost to Republican Brian Kemp.

The 2018 race was the most expensive governor’s contest in Georgia history, topping $100 million, and the 2022 campaign is expected to cost a great deal more.

Since then, the voting rights group Abrams’ founded, Fair Fight, has raised more than $100 million, spending big money to help Democratic Party efforts across the country.

Salzer’s review of Fair Fight data turned up what anyone would call Big Money-- 57 contributions of $100,000 or more, including individual contributions of at least $1 million. The largest - $5 million – came from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a mega donor to Democratic causes. In other words, Fair Fight has raised some @BigMoney.

Abrams’ campaign, and Fair Fight’s political action committee, have also raised hundreds of thousands of small-money donations – those of less than $100 – which have been the bread and butter of their efforts.

That didn’t stop Republicans from calling the group’s endorsement the “perfect example of hypocrisy.”

“While Stacey Abrams is trying to pull the wool over Georgian’s eyes, we know Stacey Abrams is the queen of big money,” said Republican National Committee spokesperson Garrison Douglas.

Tina Olechowski, spokesperson for End Citizens United/ Let America Vote, responded that Abrams has been far better than other candidates on the issues the group cares about, such as reducing or eliminating the influence of groups that dump millions of dollars into campaigns without disclosing their donors.

By contrast, she said, “Brian Kemp throughout his entire political career has attacked voting rights, advocated for special interests and dark money to continue to flood our elections, and even used his political office to push for even more ways to funnel money into his re-election effort.”

The last reference was to Kemp’s backing of “leadership committee” legislation last year that created new funds for the governor and a few select lawmakers, allowing them to raise unlimited contributions, including during the General Assembly session. By law, challengers and most lawmakers can’t avail themselves to such committees, and Kemp’s leading GOP opponent, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, is suing to have the “leadership committee” law ruled unconstitutional.


Speaking of big money, Herschel Walker was first out of the gate Wednesday morning with his fundraising numbers, posting a huge $5.4 million quarterly haul for his U.S. Senate campaign to challenge U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.

That seemed like a lot of money until Warnock released his own numbers a few hours later-- $9.8 million in the last quarter of 2021 for a massive $23 million war chest to take into the 2022 election year.


We told you recently that Republican Patrick Witt got an unusual endorsement for his 10th Congressional District bid – the backing of Donald Trump’s post-election legal team.

While Witt is a graduate of Harvard Law School and touts that he served as a member of Trump’s “official legal team” after the election, he doesn’t have a law license. So we asked him what role he played on the legal team.

Witt said he never pursued bar certification after Harvard, but instead worked on data-driven and analytics projects for major corporations.

On Trump’s team, he said, he led the “data analysis for the lawsuit and then consulted with the lawyers on the team regarding the drafting of the complaint based on my findings.”


U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is backing U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath over U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in their 7th Congressional District Democratic primary matchup.

Warren, a Massachusetts progressive who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2020, cited McBath’s personal story in a tweet announcing her endorsement.

“From raising her son as a single mother, to losing her son to gun violence, to beating breast cancer twice, @LucyMcBath deeply understands so many issues that touch people’s lives,” Warren wrote. “She’s a fierce advocate for working families, and I’m proud to endorse her for re-election.”


Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee, a panel that includes members of both the U.S. House and Senate, released a report Wednesday citing the benefits of expanding Medicaid in conservative states like Georgia where leaders have resisted doing so.

Georgia’s U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux are members of the panel. They and other members of the state’s delegation have lobbied for the Build Back Better bill to include a provision that creates a workaround that would provide coverage to residents who don’t qualify under the current rules.

President Joe Biden has resumed talks with senators in hopes of reviving the bill, and it’s unclear if the Medicaid expansion language will surve negotiations.

The JEC reported that 275,000 people in Georgia could receive health coverage under the plan, but Georgia Republicans remain opposed to the idea.


The AJC’s Mark Niesse will serve as a moderator for the Atlanta Press Club’s latest Newsmakers event featuring Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Niesse and ProPublica’s Nicole Carr will lead a discussion with Raffensperger on the 2020 election, Georgia voting laws and election disinformation.

The breakfast event will be held Feb. 10, and tickets are on sale now. More information here.


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