Polling Deja Vu – Or Is It?

Many of us recall the collective media firestorm back in 2014 when the conventional wisdom was that the race to replace retiring Senator Saxby Chambliss would undoubtedly be headed into a runoff. Only one poll since September had David Perdue running at or above the 50% mark heading into Election Day. Indeed, the final RCP Average had Perdue barely ahead of Nunn, 48.2% – 45.4%.

We all know the final result. Riding a national Republican wave, David Perdue ended up trouncing Nunn by an 8-point margin 53% to 45%, avoiding a December runoff.

Alarm bells seemed to be sounding as we all woke up this morning to an AJC poll that showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 3 points, 41% to 38%, in a 4-way race. You can see the cross tabs for yourself, here. This is the second poll in a row showing a tight race – WSB-TV/Landmark polling had the race tied at 45%.

No sooner did the hot takes begin, did many Georgia Republicans start to roll their eyes. We’ve seen this before. The polls will show a close race mired in the mid to low 40’s, but the inherent Republican advantage in turnout and party ID will deliver Trump the Peach State for the 6th straight presidential contest.

Or will it?

Looking back at the 2014 and 2012 numbers, the AJC’s record seems to be pretty good at picking the winner this close to Election Day. Their October 2012 poll nearly hit the mark – Romney won by 7.8% three weeks after the AJC pegged him up by 8%. In 2014, their September and October polls both had Perdue leading, although he was short of 50% in both of them.

Providing a warning shot to Hillary Clinton’s chances in Georgia is the infamous leaked strategy memo from the Michelle Nunn 2014 Senate campaign. In it, Nunn’s strategists assert that she would need 30% of the white vote in Georgia to win. According to AJC’s poll out today, Clinton is registering at 20% in a 4-way race.

Yet, helping Clinton are Donald Trump’s historically low numbers…among Republicans. Taking a look at the AJC cross tabs (here), Trump is only raking in 79% of self-identified Republicans. Many strategists believe that Trump needs to be north of 90% of Republicans nationally to have a chance at emerging victorious in November.

Clinton’s lead is coming from Independents, where she ties Trump at 33%, a unified Democratic party (89%), and is helped by Libertarian Gary Johnson siphoning off 18% of Independents and 9% of Republicans. Both groups are ones that Trump desperately needs on his side.

While things are still close, Trump has lost his lead of 4 points that the AJC gave him in May. This is also after the RNC in Cleveland where Republicans were urged to unite behind their nominee. Trump getting 79% of Georgia Republicans may say a lot, but “united” isn’t what comes to mind.

We should all keep in mind that Georgia has no ‘50% plus one’ requirement for presidential races. While David Perdue might have been aided by a runoff electorate, Donald Trump has no such failsafe. Hillary Clinton could conceivably win Georgia’s 16 electoral votes with numbers similar to what we have seen in recent polling.

All of this data should also be taken with a grain of salt. Singular polls are a snapshot in time and things can certainly change before Election Day. However, there’s not a lot of data that points to things going Donald Trump’s way – in Georgia, or beyond.

10
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
6 Comment threads
4 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
dunwoodymoderateDave BearseWill DurantCodyDavid C Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
LTWill
LTWill

Hillary has very little chance of winning Georgia. She would need minorities and young voters to turn out like they did for Obama (not likely) AND she would need Gary Johnson to get in the mid-double digits (even less likely).

That doesn’t mean that Georgia can’t be an important barometer of the overall race. It would be a safe bet that Hillary plans on an electorial blowout if either of their ads start showing up on local tv. Money spent here would be better spent in actual battleground states.

augusta52
augusta52

No, I don’t think Johnson would need to get mid double-digits for Clinton to win Georgia, but he certainly would need more than the standard 1 percent Libertarian showing in statewide races. The Green Party candidate may collect 2 or so percent if she gets on the ballot. A Clinton win could look like something like 48 Clinton, 47 Trump, 4 Johnson and 1 Stein (Green Party). For Clinton to win, she would need a big win in metro Atlanta, perhaps 10 points or more. Granted it would be a leap for Georgia to go from Romney+8 last time to… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

538’s most conservative (statistically, not politically) model has Hillary with a 74.7% chance of winning and taking the Obama ’12 states plus NC.

If Hillary is winning or incredibly close in Georgja, the Democrats are probably looking at an election night where they take the Senate, narrow the gap in the House (too many things need to break their way for them to win a majority), and net their biggest Electoral College victory since ’68.

augusta52
augusta52

And Larry Sabato’s Center for Politics website hasn’t changed its basic format in months—yes, they have changed some ratings from “lean” to “likely” but overall, as Andrew points out above with the 538 Site, Sabato has the same thing, Clinton winning the 332 electoral votes from the Obama states of 2012 plus the 15 electoral votes of North Carolina—347 to 191. Since the 1992 election of Bill Clinton, every Democratic presidential candidate, win or lose, has taken more than 250 electoral votes (the “worst” showing being John Kerry, who won 252 electoral votes in 2004 against Bush the second—though he… Read more »

David C
David C

Looking at recent electoral results in Georgia, it’s possible for Clinton to win, but to do so, she’d need to really win the Atlanta metro. In the longer term, I’m still confident that Georgia will be the next in the VA/NC Southern swing state change. The key is that ATL and its inner suburbs are slowly becoming the next Northern VA. In a POTUS year, Fulton, Cobb, Dekalb, and Gwinnett collectively have 1.4 million voters, about 1/3 of the state’s total. Traditionally, Republican Cobb and Gwinnett balanced out solid Democratic Dekalb and lean Democratic Fulton, so the impact on the… Read more »

Will Durant
Will Durant

I think Johnson pulling 12% is significant, even in a poll this far out. I’m failing to understand why most of the polls are only offering 2 choices when the actual ballot will have at least 3 names.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

I’d suggest only two are polled because three-quarters or more of those choosing non-major party candidates in pre-election polling change their minds and choose a major party candidate in the booth.

dunwoodymoderate
dunwoodymoderate

If Trump loses Georgia, it will be because Republicans stay home. If he keeps up the pace of alienating people that might end up being quite possible. Doubly so since he seems to have no ground game to speak of in any battleground state to turn out the vote, let alone here. I will say his overall electoral strategy is probably the right one. The only viable path for Republicans going forward appears to be flipping states in the Industrial Midwest that are still overwhelmingly white. Of course, this should be easier for him than a more traditional Republican candidate… Read more »