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Sat Oct 31, 2020, 01:09 PM

In Georgia, Trump may become a victim of his own realignment

Georgia Democrats are like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football. Every year, they make a run at turning the light-red state blue — and Lucy, in the form of the Georgia GOP, snatches away victory at the last moment.

But in 2020, Charlie Brown’s kicking foot just might find its target.

According to the FiveThirtyEight polling average, Joe Biden leads President Trump by 1.6 points in the Peach State, while RealClearPolitics gives Biden a .8-point lead. Major handicappers rate both of the state’s Senate races as toss-ups. Both Trump and Biden are making late stops in Georgia, and both parties are blanketing the state with TV ads, a sign they agree the race there is tight.

On the presidential level, Trump is a victim of the very realignment that won him the White House in the first place.

In the pre-Trump era, Republicans easily won Georgia by catering to White voters. In nearly every election, GOP candidates would win by landslide margins with non-college-educated White voters — many of whom are evangelical Christians — and take most of the college-educated White vote, while losing the overwhelming majority of Black voters. It was an ugly political equilibrium that played on the state’s historical racial divisions, but the net result was that Republicans routinely won statewide elections by safe, stable single-digit margins.

But the firewall began to crumble as Trump alienated suburbanites — both through his incompetence and racist remarks. The shift was already visible in 2016, in fact, when Trump won college-educated White voters by only 23 points, a 15-point decline from Mitt Romney’s showing four years earlier. Metro Atlanta — a region of 6 million that is 46 percent White, 34 percent Black and 11 percent Hispanic — trended away from the GOP. By 2018, Democrats had flipped the suburban 6th Congressional District — Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s former home — while gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams fell just 1.4 points of short of victory. Now the Monmouth University poll shows Trump leading with college-educated White Georgians by a mere seven points.


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