ATLANTA — President Donald Trump’s visit to Georgia Wednesday came at a time when polls have shown the president could lose the state to Democrat Joe Biden.
With protests roiling Georgia cities and suburbs – and with a pandemic threatening lives and an economic downturn threatening incomes, the 2020 presidential election is giving Georgia voters almost too much to consider, as they weigh whether President Trump should get another term.
Cobb Republican chairman Jason Shepherd says swing voters see the president as the good guy in a time where he says extremists are driving protests.
"Black Lives Matter, as a movement, is very important to talk about. Of course, as a Republican, the movement is very different from the organization which basically spouts Marxist ideology," Shepherd told 11Alive News.
Democrats say BLM is a biracial grass-roots movement which – like the COVID-19 pandemic – they say the president is unable to grasp.
"As thousands poured into the streets to march for Black lives, Trump has called us thugs, gassed peaceful protesters and sicced the US military on American citizens," said Stacey Abrams, the former Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, during a call with reporters prior to Trump's visit.
Yet in Georgia, Republicans have a proven record – holding every statewide office from governor on down for the last ten years.
Republicans have been winning Georgia’s presidential electoral votes for 56 years – starting with Barry Goldwater in 1964. Georgia Democrat Jimmy Carter broke the streak twice.
But since 1984, only Bill Clinton has interrupted it – barely, in 1992. Even Republicans Bob Dole and Mitt Romney easily took Georgia.
But Donald Trump barely broke fifty percent when he won Georgia in 2016. And polls have showed Trump tied, at best, with Democrat Joe Biden this year.
President Trump’s campaign made a six-figure TV advertising buy in Georgia last month, signaling his need to keep Georgia in the GOP’s column in 2020.
"We know that Donald Trump’s incompetence, his failure to care, is going to be on display from now through November," Abrams said.
Countered Shepherd: "2020 is going to be Donald Trump’s year in Georgia."
How President Trump fares can also trickle down to other races – from two US Senate seats up for grabs this year, to two contested congressional seats, to the state’s House of Representatives – in this most unusual of election years.