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State & Regional Govt & Politics
AJC POLL: Trump faces tough re-election fight in Georgia
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AJC POLL: Trump faces tough re-election fight in Georgia

Trump faces tough re-election fight in Georgia, AJC poll finds.

AJC POLL: Trump faces tough re-election fight in Georgia

A majority of Georgians disapprove of President Donald Trump’s performance in the White House and he appears to be facing a hard fight against each of the five top Democratic candidates seeking to replace him, according to an exclusive Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll.

In head-to-head matchups, former Vice President Joe Biden ran strongest against Trump, leading the president 51% to 43%, fueled by solid support from women and independents. Other matchups against South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are much tighter.

The findings provide an early snapshot of the developing race in Georgia one year out from the election and strengthens claims that the state will be a 2020 battleground.

» Interactive: See poll results

» Related: How — and why — we conducted this poll

» Related: Georgians support impeachment inquiry, split on Trump ouster

» PDF: Complete poll crosstabs

The poll highlighted the sharp degree of polarization around Trump, who is the focus of public impeachment hearings that begin Wednesday. About 54% of registered Georgia voters disapprove of his record while 44% approve.

It also shows the unsettled nature of U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s quest for a second term in 2020. Though about 50% of Georgians approve of his job performance, only about one-third say they’d support him in next year’s election. A bigger group — 41% — say their choice depends on who the Democratic nominee is.

The findings help illustrate the political challenges facing both parties as Democrats target Georgia as a 2020 battleground, aiming to flip both U.S. Senate seats up for grabs next year and carry the state in a presidential election for the first time since Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory.

The poll was conducted Oct. 30 to Nov. 8 by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

For Democrats, the most encouraging finding might be the shift of independents, a largely white bloc of voters that has traditionally leaned Republican. A majority of independents support the impeachment inquiry, and about 60% disapprove of Trump’s job performance.

Republicans are buoyed by signs that Trump is further consolidating GOP support, with 87% of Republicans contributing to an increase in his overall favorability rating to 42%. A broad majority of conservatives also opposes the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry.

And Gov. Brian Kemp’s popularity continues to rise: Some 54% of Georgia voters give him a favorable review one year since he won the election, up from 46% in April and 37% in January. That includes most women and about one-fifth of Democrats. His job approval rating was about the same.

That echoes a generally positive view of Georgia’s direction. While about 61% of voters say they’re not satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. — including one-third who are “very” dissatisfied — voters are sunnier about Georgia’s outlook: About 60% are keen on the way things are going.

Still, many voters fear darker economic clouds are threatening. About 55% of voters describe the economy as “excellent” or “good,” and one-third say it’s “fair.” But a majority – 54% — worry that a recession is likely in the next year.

Not ‘perfect’

Those concerns join a swirl of other factors that will influence next year’s race for president, but Trump might loom largest.

Democrats remain overwhelmingly opposed to the president, with about 90% “strongly” disapproving of him. Among them is Albert Ross of Savannah, who is leaning toward Biden but said he’s willing to support anyone else on the ballot to ensure Trump is a one-term president.

“I wouldn’t vote for him if he was giving reparations,” said Ross, who is black.

At the same time, Republican support appears to be strengthening for the president. In April, an AJC poll found 83% of GOP voters had a favorable impression of Trump. In November, that rose to roughly 87% of voters who strongly or somewhat approve of him.

Beverly Hales, a retired preschool teacher from Canton, said she plans to support Trump because of low unemployment rates and support for the military — and she is willing to overlook what she considers his shortcomings.

“I know he is not a perfect person; none of them are,” Hales said. “But I think he has done good for the country.”

Each of the five potential Democratic presidential candidates tested in the AJC poll had strong support among women and voters under age 45, areas of traditional strength for Democrats in Georgia.

But Biden fared better than his counterparts among independents, with 46% of the vote, and with white voters, tallying 34% of the vote. He and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders also performed best with men, each notching 42% of the male vote in hypothetical matchups against Trump.

Apart from Biden’s 8-point edge in the head-to-head matchups, none of the other Democrats tested in the AJC survey have clear leads over Trump.

The poll also suggests that Perdue, a former Fortune 500 chief executive, could face a tight race. In a contest against an unnamed Democratic opponent, about 35% of voters back Perdue, including about three-quarters of Republicans. One-fifth of voters will back the Democrat.

But the plurality of voters say they are in wait-and-see mode depending on who his Democratic opponent is. That includes two-thirds of independents and a majority of voters who consider themselves moderates or slightly conservative.

Who Perdue will face remains an open question: Four well-known Democrats are competing for the nomination, and more candidates could join the contest before the May primary.

‘Pretty cautious’

The poll points to deep unpopularity of the Medicare for All plan to provide government-funded health care, which some Democrats say can be achieved without raising taxes on middle-class Americans. Both Sanders and Warren have made Medicare for All a main focus of their plans.

Only 40% of Georgia voters support the idea, compared with 53% who oppose it. Independent voters are almost evenly split on the issue, and nearly one-third of Democrats say it’s a bad idea. Republicans, on the other hand, are nearly united in their opposition, with more than 80% against it.

The lean toward more government programs factors into Anthony Quadagno’s 2020 calculus. He considers himself a “Reagan conservative” and is concerned with some of Trump’s behavior, but he plans to vote for him in 2020.

“He backpedals a lot,” said Quadagno, who lives in Marietta. “I don’t know if I believe him. But I just think the Democratic candidates, they’re leaning way toward socialism and that scares me.”

Democrats, meanwhile, are careful not to let a sense of enthusiasm about defeating Trump get to their heads. Flannery Williams, a gerontology student from Lilburn, described a tentative mood going into next year’s election.

“It could go either way, but I’m pretty cautious about 2020,” she said. “I’d love to think it’s going great, but I thought the last election was going great — and I was very surprised when Trump won.”

AJC poll

The poll of 1,028 registered voters was conducted Oct. 30 to Nov. 8 by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.

Do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove or strongly disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president?

1. Strongly approve — 29%

2. Somewhat approve — 15%

3. Somewhat disapprove — 8%

4. Strongly disapprove — 46%

5. Don’t know; refused to answer — 1%

Do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove or strongly disapprove of the way Brian Kemp is handling his job as governor?

1. Strongly approve — 26%

2. Somewhat approve — 29%

3. Somewhat disapprove — 18%

4. Strongly disapprove — 17%

5. Don’t know; refused to answer — 10%

Do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove or strongly disapprove of the way David Perdue is handling his job as U.S. senator?

1. Strongly approve — 19%

2. Somewhat approve — 31%

3. Somewhat disapprove — 14%

4. Strongly disapprove — 18%

5. Don’t know; refused to answer — 18%

In general, how satisfied are you with the way things are going in the U.S. today?

1. Very satisfied — 12%

2. Somewhat satisfied — 26%

3. Somewhat dissatisfied — 28%

4. Very dissatisfied — 33%

5. Don’t know; refused to answer — 2%

In general, how satisfied are you with the way things are going in Georgia today?

1. Very satisfied — 16%

2. Somewhat satisfied — 44%

3. Somewhat dissatisfied — 27%

4. Very dissatisfied — 12%

5. Don’t know; refused to answer — 2%

How would you describe the state of the U.S. economy?

1. Excellent — 22%

2. Good — 33%

3. Fair — 32%

4. Poor — 12%

5. Don’t know; refused to answer — 1%

How would you describe the state of Georgia’s economy?

1. Excellent — 19%

2. Good — 37%

3. Fair — 32%

4. Poor — 10%

5. Don’t know; refused to answer — 3%

How likely do you think it is that there will be an economic recession in the next year: very likely, somewhat likely, no to likely or not likely at all?

1. Very likely — 14%

2. Somewhat likely — 40%

3. Not so likely — 25%

4. Not likely at all — 17%

5. Don’t know; refused to answer — 3%

Overall, do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of President Donald Trump?

1. Favorable — 42%

2. Unfavorable — 56%

3. Don’t know; refused to answer — 3%

Overall, do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Gov. Brian Kemp?

1. Favorable — 54%

2. Unfavorable — 36%

3. Don’t know; refused to answer — 10%

Overall, do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Sen. David Perdue?

1. Favorable — 50%

2. Unfavorable — 34%

3. Don’t know; refused to answer — 17%

If the 2020 presidential election were held today, how would you vote if the candidates were Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden?

1. Donald Trump — 43%

2. Joe Biden — 51%

3. Other candidate — 3%

4. Will not vote — 1%

5. Don’t know; refused to answer — 3%

If the 2020 presidential election were held today, how would you vote if the candidates were Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders?

1. Donald Trump — 44%

2. Bernie Sanders — 48%

3. Other candidate — 4%

4. Will not vote — 2%

5. Don’t know; refused to answer — 3%

If the 2020 presidential election were held today, how would you vote if the candidates were Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Elizabeth Warren?

1. Donald Trump — 44%

2. Elizabeth Warren — 47%

3. Other candidate — 4%

4. Will not vote — 2%

5. Don’t know; refused to answer — 3%

If the 2020 presidential election were held today, how would you vote if the candidates were Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Pete Buttigieg?

1. Donald Trump — 43%

2. Pete Buttigieg — 46%

3. Other candidate — 4%

4. Will not vote — 2%

5. Don’t know; refused to answer — 5%

If the 2020 presidential election were held today, how would you vote if the candidates were Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Kamala Harris?

1. Donald Trump — 44%

2. Kamala Harris — 45%

3. Other candidate — 4%

4. Will not vote — 3%

5. Don’t know; refused to answer — 4%

If the election for the U.S. Senate in Georgia were held today, would you vote for Republican David Perdue, his Democratic opponent, or does it depend on who the Democratic opponent is?

1. David Perdue — 35%

2. Democratic opponent — 21%

3. Depends on who the Democratic opponent is — 41%

4. Other candidate — 1%

5. Will not vote — 0%

6. Don’t know; refused to answer — 2%

Do you support or oppose Medicare for All, which is a system that will eliminate all private health insurance companies, and where all Americans, not just older ones, get health insurance coverage through the government’s Medicare system?

1. Support — 40%

2. Oppose — 53%

3. Don’t know; refused to answer — 7%

Note: The survey was conducted by telephone, with 70% of calls made to cellphones and 30% to traditional landlines. The data are weighted based on race, age and sex to accurately reflect the demographics of the state. Some totals may not equal 100% due to rounding.

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O’Brien, during an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said the administration is likely to make a decision about restricting travel to Brazil on Sunday and said White House officials “hope that will be temporary.” He said the White House would “take a look at the other countries on a country by country basis” in that region. Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre reopens Update 6:55 a.m. EDT May 24: Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of Christianity’s holiest sites, reopened Sunday, The Washington Post reported. The church, which closed several months ago for the first time since the 14th century, allowed 50 people at a time to visit the church, the newspaper reported. Visitors were required to wear masks and maintain a 6-foot distance from one another. “From this Holy Place, in this Easter time, we continue our prayers, asking for the end of this pandemic,” the leaders of the Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian Orthodox churches in Jerusalem said in a statement Saturday. The churches share custody of the site, the Post UK lawmaker calls for Boris Johnson’s aide to resign Update 6:47 a.m. EDT May 24: A growing number of Conservative Party lawmakers are calling for Dominic Cummings, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top aide, to resign. “Enough is enough,” Steve Baker wrote in an editorial for The Critic website. “Dominic Cummings must go before he does any more harm to the UK, the Government, the Prime Minister, our institutions or the Conservative Party.” Several newspapers in the United Kingdom reported that Cummings made a second trip from London to Durham during the coronavirus lockdown. But Johnson’s office on Downing Street refuted the allegations, saying in s statement that “We will not waste our time answering a stream of false allegations about Mr. Cummings from campaigning newspapers.” Other Conservatives agreed with Baiker, taking to Twitter to voice their displeasure. Roger Gale tweeted that Cummings’ position “is no longer tenable” Caroline Nokes tweeted “there cannot be one rule for most of us and wriggle room for others” Craig Whittaker tweeted that “you cannot advise the nation one thing then do the opposite” US coronavirus cases top 1.6M, deaths inch closer to 100K Update 12:05 a.m. EDT May 23: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surged past 1.6 million early Saturday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,622,612 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 97,087 deaths. The hardest-hit states remain New York with 359,926 cases and 28,926 deaths and New Jersey with 153,140 cases and 11,082 deaths. Massachusetts, with 90,889 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,228, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 105,444. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 5,000 cases each. Seven other states have now confirmed at least 41,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 90,778 cases, resulting in 3,672 deaths • Pennsylvania: 70,784 cases, resulting in 5,100 deaths • Michigan: 54,395 cases, resulting in 5,224 deaths • Texas: 53,584 cases, resulting in 1,470 deaths • Florida: 50,127 cases, resulting in 2,233 deaths • Maryland: 45,495 cases, resulting in 2,243 deaths • Georgia: 42,139 cases, resulting in 1,817 deaths Meanwhile, Connecticut, Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 30,000 cases; Colorado and North Carolina each has confirmed more than 22,000 cases; Tennessee, Washington and Minnesota each has confirmed at least 19,000 cases; Iowa and Arizona both have confirmed more than 16,000 cases; Wisconsin has 14,877 cases; Rhode Island, Alabama and Mississippi each has confirmed at least 13,000 cases; Missouri and Nebraska each has confirmed at least 11,000 cases, followed by South Carolina with 9,638; Kansas, Delaware, Kentucky and Utah each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases; the District of Columbia and Nevada each has confirmed at least 7,000 cases, followed by New Mexico with 6,625; Oklahoma and Arkansas each has confirmed at least 5,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown.
  • The Republican National Committee and other conservative groups filed a lawsuit Sunday to stop California from mailing ballots to all voters ahead of the November general election. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced earlier this month that the state would mail all registered voters a ballot, while in-person voting would still remain an option, CNN reported. 'Democrats continue to use this pandemic as a ploy to implement their partisan election agenda, and Gov. Newsom's executive order is the latest direct assault on the integrity of our elections,' RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement, CNN reported. The lawsuit, filed by the RNC, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the California Republican Party challenges the expansion of absentee voting. '(It) violates eligible citizens' right to vote,' the lawsuit claims. '(And) invites fraud, coercion, theft, and otherwise illegitimate voting.' State officials stand by the move. “California will not force voters to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “We are meeting our obligation to provide an accessible, secure and safe election this November. Sending every registered voter a ballot by mail is smart policy and absolutely the right thing to do during this COVID-19 pandemic.” The lawsuit is one of nearly a dozen across the country challenging Democrat-led vote-by-mail expansion. The RNC has pored $20 million into the nationwide legal effort, CNN reported. Some states, including Republican-heavy Utah, already conduct their elections completely by mail. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud linked to voting-by-mail, CNN reported.
  • Thousands of convicted felons will be eligible to vote in Florida after a federal court ruled that a law that created wealth-based hurdles to voting is unconstitutional. The law, SB 7066, required people with past convictions to pay all outstanding legal fees, costs, fines and restitution before regaining their right to vote. The law undermined Floridians’ 2018 passage of Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to more than a million people who completed the terms of their sentence, including parole or probation. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle found that conditioning voting on payment of legal financial obligations a person is unable to pay violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by discriminating on the basis of wealth. He said that requiring the payment of costs and fees violates the 24th Amendment, which prohibits poll taxes and violates the National Voter Registration Act. “This is a historic win for voting rights. Judge Hinkle told the state of Florida what the rest of America already knows. You can’t make wealth a prerequisite for voting. This ruling opens the way for hundreds of thousands of Floridians to exercise their fundamental right to vote this November, and our democracy will be stronger for their participation,' said Sean Morales-Doyle, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice.