Trump’s Great Opportunity

Jackie Gingrich Cushman, While Democratic operatives and pundits are calling for Georgia to go for the Democratic nominee, President Donald Trump has greatly improved his lead. Let’s start with a bit of history for those who are not as familiar as I am with Georgia, my home for more decades than I would like to mention.

For several presidential election cycles, pundits have said Georgia has been shifting into the Democratic column. This election year is no different. The state has voted for Republican presidential candidates since 1972 (with the exception of Southern Democratic candidates Jimmy Carter in 1976, 1980 and Bill Clinton in 1992).

Since 1996, it has been a solidly Republican state for presidential races, with Trump besting Hillary Clinton by more than five points four years ago. While Clinton might have been a former first lady of Arkansas and the United States, she was also a senator from New York — and did not run as a moderate.

This year, the campaigns for both Trump and Biden have viewed Georgia as a battleground state. In a poll of 500 likely voters conducted by Landmark Communication before the conventions, Trump (47.4 percent) held a nearly three-point lead over Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden (44.5 percent). Just 4 percent of the voters said they were undecided. It appeared as though most of the voters had decided.

But things have changed during the past two weeks, which featured the national conventions of both parties. Both conventions were scaled down and held as primarily virtual events. This week’s polling is the first to incorporate the post-convention effect. On Tuesday, WSB-TV in Atlanta released a statewide poll conducted by Landmark Communications of 500 likely voters following the conventions. It showed a commanding lead of 7 points by Trump (48 percent) over Biden (41 percent). This shift is accompanied by a more than doubling of undecided voters: It now stands at 9 percent. What’s really interesting is what is behind those numbers.

The takeaway is that Trump gained ground; Biden’s support eroded; and the percentage of undecided voters more than doubled, giving Trump the potential for a big pickup in voters. Trump has a huge opportunity.

Digging into the details, the percentage of black voters who are likely to vote for Trump rose from 5 percent to 7 percent. Black support for Biden dropped from 60 percent to 40 percent, with black undecided voters moving from 5 percent to 13 percent. Based on age categories, Biden’s support fell in every category, with the largest drop occurring in the 65 and over category, people who are nearly certain to vote. Their support for Biden fell from 42 percent to 37 percent.

The shift among gender lines is also dramatic. Biden dropped three points among likely male voters and 5 points among likely female voters, with undecideds more than doubling among men (4.5 percent to 9.1 percent) and more than quadrupling (2.0 percent to 9.7 percent) among women. This shift in undecided female voters is a boon for Trump if he can convince them he is the right candidate.

Along party lines, Trump picked up Republican voters, and Biden lost Democratic voters. When looking across party lines, the shift is even more dramatic. Trump garnered 12.6 percent of likely Democratic voters, while 6.6 percent of likely Republican voters indicated they would vote for Biden.

This is more than a post-convention poll because the conventions are not the only thing happening in politics today. In fact, everything seems to be about politics today. Sports teams are canceling games to protest. Some protests are turning into riots. Residents of Kenosha, Wisconsin, have seen many small businesses looted and burned, and the rest of the nation is watching. The shutdown response to the pandemic has dramatically affected the economy. Many schools are engaging in distance learning and stretching already overloaded parents. People are worried about how they can pull everything together.

My guess is that many people will vote for the person they believe can bring order and stability to our nation. Their numbers will grow as people continue to see the violence and rioting in cities across our nation. One of the byproducts of the pandemic is the increase in the number of people who work from home. This has untethered office workers from specific geographic locations. San Francisco rent is falling as people abandon the city for cheaper rent elsewhere; the same holds true for New York, where people are fleeing.

This recent poll reflects a great opportunity for Trump. But hold on; it’s going to be a wild ride to the election.

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