The Jolt: Three Georgia polls in three days say the presidential contest is a dead heat

April 24, 2019 Atlanta - Atlanta - President Donald Trump with First Lady Melania Trump reacts as they exit Air Force One at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump addressed the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

One of the more sensible admonitions in politics recommends skepticism when encountering an individual poll. Pay more attention to multiple surveys that say much the same thing.

When President Donald Trump touches down in Cobb County on Friday, making his 10th visit to Georgia since taking office, he’ll be landing in territory very much up for grabs.

Three separate statewide polls, released over three consecutive days this week, show Trump tied with Democrat Joe Biden – or at least mired in the margin of error. On Tuesday, there was the Journal-Constitution poll (MOE +/-4.3):

The poll pegged Trump and Biden at 47% apiece, with an additional 1% of voters backing Libertarian Jo Jorgensen. Only 4% were undecided in the survey of 1,150 likely voters, which was conducted Sept. 11-20 by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs.

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On Wednesday, Monmouth University in New Jersey published its own assessment of Georgia (MOE +/-4.0):

Among all registered voters in Georgia, Trump is supported by 47% and Biden is supported by 46%. Another 2% say they will vote for Libertarian Jo Jorgensen and 4% are undecided. These results include 42% who are certain to vote for Trump and 40% who say are certain about Biden….The race remains tight when different likely voter models are applied. A model based on a higher level of turnout than 2016 puts the race at 48% Trump and 46% Biden, while one reflecting lower turnout produces a similar 50% Trump and 45% Biden result.

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And this morning, we have a New York Times/Sienna College survey (MOE +/-4.9):

In Georgia, where the two candidates are tied at 45 percent, Mr. Biden leads among women by 10 points. Mr. Trump is ahead with men by a similar margin of 11 percentage points…

… Mr. Biden’s lead with women essentially matched Mrs. Clinton’s final advantage in the 2016 race. But where Mr. Trump carried Georgia men by 23 points four years ago, he was ahead by about half that margin with men in the state in the Times poll.

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As with the two other surveys, the Times poll had Biden with a substantially higher proportion of the white vote (27%) than Hillary Clinton in 2016.

A striking statistic embedded in the NYT poll: Biden leads Trump 56-33% in the “inner” Atlanta suburbs. But Trump has a 57-33% advantage in the “outer” suburbs.

In other contests, according to the NYT survey:

U.S. Sen. David Perdue is running neck-and-neck with Democrat Jon Ossoff. The Republican is at 41% while Ossoff is at 38% — within the margin of error. (In the AJC poll: Perdue, 47%; Ossoff, 45%)

In the NYT poll, Ossoff is polling at 22% among white voters – indicating that Perdue has retained many white voters that Trump has lost. Ossoff receives support from 75% among Black voters in the survey, compared to 83% for Biden.

In Georgia’s other contest, U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins and Democrat Raphael Warnock are all bunched up, according to the NYT poll – just as in the survey released by the AJC. From the NYT: Loeffler is at 23% and Collins and Warnock are both pegged at 19%. Matt Lieberman slips to 7%.

A key figure: Among Republicans, Loeffler has a 49-35% edge over Collins. While 27% of overall Georgia voters are undecided, only 12% of GOP voters haven’t made up their mind in this poll.

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Over at Georgiavotes.com, Ryan Anderson tells us that 11,461 Georgia voters have already cast their ballots in the Nov. 3 general election. The largest number of them, 70%, are over 65. The racial breakdown: 59% white, 33% Black.

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This might be one of the stranger Politifact reports we’ve seen come out of the fact-checking outlet -- an assessment of U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s TV ad claiming she is “more conservative than Attila the Hun.” Among the findings:

As for Attila the Hun, we can’t resist pointing out that the comparison is largely misaligned with history. Attila isn’t regarded as “conservative” in the ideological sense, according to historians. If you had to peg him, you’d probably say “murderer” or “plunderer.”

…Attila was a “supreme king” who was, “of course, neither a conservative nor liberal by modern standards,” said Hyun Jin Kim, a professor in classics at the University of Melbourne in Australia and author of “The Huns.” “By Hunnic standards, Attila was a more or less traditional ruler.”

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Nor did he war with China, as her ad suggested. Attila turned his sights westward, conquering swathes of the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Though the ad is intended to amuse, the Republican’s claim that she’s on the far end of the conservative spectrum is not. In fact, it’s at the center of her campaign for election against U.S. Rep. Doug Collins and 19 other candidates.

And Loeffler plans to keep highlighting the Attila spots. On Wednesday, her campaign released a sequel featuring the character sending an illegal border crosser to a dungeon, and apparently ready to deliver a sword stroke to a man accused of raising taxes. Collins, meanwhile, has devised a “translator” to turn Attila’s grunts into attacks on her record.

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Yet another sign of growing Collins-Loeffler enmity: Doug Collins has hired Lin Wood, the conservative lawyer who also represents Nicholas Sandmann and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

And the four-term congressman is already putting him to work. This morning, Wood sent a cease-and-desist letter to the pro-Loeffler GUV PAC, targeting an ad that criticized Collins' work as an attorney. From the letter:

“…[T]his advertisement misleads viewers by conveying, among other falsehoods, that Congressman Collins prior work as a small-town attorney caused or aided the abuse, battering, and murder of women. This claim is a malicious lie. The advertisement is the most recent attempt by Congressman Collins' political opponent, Kelly Loeffler and her well-funded allies to blatantly misrepresent the truth about Congressman Collins.”

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David Perdue is among several Senate Republicans who changed their tune on nominating a Supreme Court justice during a presidential election year -- now that a Republican is in the White House.

But Perdue has avoided questions from journalists all week about the flip-flop. From CNN on Wednesday:

“I got people waiting for me,” said Georgia Sen. David Perdue, not responding to questions for the third time this week about his 2016 statement that not holding hearings on Obama nominee Merrick Garland “is a wise course of action in the midst of a presidential election.”

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The Democratic National Committee has launched a new ad urging people to register to vote and participate in this year’s election that features the words of Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, who died in July.

The digital ad will run on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and is targeted to potential voters in the battleground states Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

The 65-second ad excerpts Lewis’s speech from the 2012 Democratic Convention in Charlotte.

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Georgia native Brian Jack was promoted this week to assistant to the president, the highest rank in the White House staff.

Jack, who is also the White House political director, was Trump’s go-to delegate wrangler in the 2016 campaign and has since worked his way up the ranks. Read more about him here.

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One of the more obscure electoral contests in Georgia will arrive next Tuesday, when seven candidates compete to finish out the 2018-2020 term of the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

Voters can see all seven Fifth District candidates on Zoom tonight, from 6:30-8 p.m.. The forum is hosted by the League of Women Voters of Atlanta-Fulton County and includes all five Democrats running -- state Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas, former Morehouse College president Robert Franklin, Barrington Martin II, former Atlanta City councilman Kwanza Hall, former state Rep. Keisha Sean Waites. Also in the scrum will be Libertarian Chase Oliver and Steven Muhammad, the independent in the race.

Click here for RSVP information to watch tonight’s forum.

If no candidate wins 50% +1 on Tuesday, the top two finishers head to a Dec. 1 runoff. The term expires in early January.

None of this should be confused with the Fifth District contest on Nov. 3, when Democratic state Sen. Nikema Williams will face off against Republican Angela Stanton King for a full two-year term that starts in January.

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Joe Biden has made his first down-ballot endorsement in Georgia since securing the Democratic presidential nomination, backing Carolyn Bourdeaux in the Seventh District congressional contest against Republican Rich McCormick.

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On Wednesday, Carolyn Bourdeaux addressed the impact of a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court during a virtual press conference with other Democratic candidates in battleground congressional races.

The Seventh District candidate said the appointment of a conservative Supreme Court justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Senate Republicans could increase the likelihood that a Georgia law prohibiting nearly all abortions in Georgia would be upheld. This law, currently on hold while opponents challenge its constitutionality, would bar abortions in Georgia after about six weeks -- before many women know they’re pregnant.

“It’s very, very extreme, and there is the chance now that that can be upheld if there is a change on the Supreme Court,” Bourdeaux said.

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President Donald Trump tweeted last month that “the Ten Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S. are ALL run by Democrats,” and he has blamed rising crime rates on protests and cuts to police funding.

Today, as he prepares to visit Jacksonville, his hand-picked site for the Republican National Convention before it was thwarted by the coronavirus, Florida Times-Union columnist Nate Monroe points out that his city doesn’t fit Trump’s narrative: It’s run by Republicans.

Jacksonville has clocked 131 homicides this year, on track to be the worst ever since the Times-Union began keeping track of this data more than a decade ago. At this point last year  —  which, until now, was the worst the newspaper had recorded, with 160 total  —  the city had recorded 116 homicides by mid-September.

Neither is this problem the result of a lack of focus.

The city’s Republican mayor, Lenny Curry, ran his predecessor out of office with a sharply negative campaign focused intensely on the city’s crime problems. But Curry is now a second-term mayor who has overseen some of the most violent years in the city’s history.

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