Biden expresses concerns about Georgia’s current state

President Biden is encountering concerning indicators in Georgia, the state he successfully turned blue for the first time in decades during the 2020 elections. These indicators include low voter turnout in the primary elections and a scarcity of prominent down-ballot races that could energize his voter base.

In the previous election cycle, Biden emerged victorious over former President Trump in the Peach State by a margin of fewer than 12,000 votes. However, current polls indicate that the tables have turned, with the former president now holding the advantage as they both gear up for a potential rematch in 2024.

Democrats admit that there is still work to be done by Biden in order to rally voters, as the state is expected to once again have a significant impact in the upcoming November elections.

According to Atlanta-based Democratic strategist Fred Hicks, there is a concerning enthusiasm gap between Democratic and Republican voters in Georgia. He emphasizes that the key question for Democrats is not just about choosing a candidate to support in the November elections, but rather, whether they will actually turn out to vote.

In Georgia’s Democratic primary last week, Biden emerged as the clear winner, leaving his long-shot challengers far behind. He secured an impressive victory, receiving over 95 percent of the vote. However, despite his overwhelming success, the total voter turnout for the primary fell just below 290,000, as reported by Decision Desk HQ.

In the Republican primary, Trump garnered an impressive 85 percent of the vote, showcasing his strong support among Georgia voters. The race also witnessed a significant increase in turnout compared to the opposing party, with nearly 590,000 Georgians participating in the GOP contest.

Turnout will play a crucial role in Georgia, a state that Trump won in 2016 and where Biden narrowly won by a slim margin of one-quarter of 1 percent. While strategists acknowledge that the primary electorate may not accurately reflect the general election outcome, it underscores the importance of mobilizing voters in the upcoming election.

According to Abigail Collazo, a Democratic strategist with experience in Georgia, the outcome of the upcoming election is highly uncertain. In a year as unpredictable as this one, nothing can be assumed, especially when it comes to winning over Black and minority voters, who are crucial to the success of the Biden campaign.

President Biden makes his way towards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 19, 2023. Biden is en route to Nevada, Arizona, and Texas for a series of campaign and official engagements. (Greg Nash)

In the previous election cycle, the state of Georgia experienced an unprecedented surge in voter participation. The contest between Biden and the incumbent Trump, combined with other important races further down the ballot, served as a catalyst for increased voter enthusiasm.

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia Democrats showed up in significant numbers to not only remove Trump from office but also to make history by electing Democrat Jon Ossoff as the first Jewish senator in the state and the Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) as the state’s first Black senator.

In that year, Georgia made a significant change by combining its presidential preference primary and general primary into a single June election. However, this year, they have returned to having separate dates for these elections.

According to Hicks, the main challenge for Biden-Harris is to ensure that the Democratic turnout in the upcoming elections matches that of 2020. However, this time they do not have the advantage of having other historic races on the ballot.

Biden will need to rally the significant Black population in the state, as they make up roughly one-third of the battleground state. However, polls indicate that the incumbent is currently facing challenges in winning over this demographic on a national level.

Around 6,000 Georgians chose not to cast their votes in the Democratic primary as a form of protest against the administration’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war, as reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The state of Georgia was recently thrust into the center of an ongoing partisan debate on immigration following the tragic death of University of Georgia student Laken Riley. In connection to Riley’s death, a Venezuelan citizen who entered the U.S. illegally was arrested and charged with murder. This event has sparked concerns about Biden’s handling of the border, with many on the right linking the tragedy to his immigration policies. Biden will now have to address these persistent concerns in his administration.

During his State of the Union address earlier this month, President Biden acknowledged the tragic death of Laken Riley, a young woman who lost her life at the hands of an illegal immigrant. In response to a heckle from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Biden expressed his condolences to Laken’s parents and empathized with their pain, having experienced the loss of his own children. He also highlighted the importance of addressing the issue of illegal immigration and the need to prevent further tragedies.

According to a recent survey conducted by Emerson College Polling and The Hill, Trump is leading Biden by 8 points in Georgia when it comes to the issue of immigration. Furthermore, in a general election rematch, polling averages from Decision Desk HQ/The Hill indicate that Trump is ahead of Biden by 5 points.

According to Jay Williams, a Republican strategist based in Georgia, in order for Biden to have a better chance at winning the state, he would need to take a more assertive approach towards the border.

According to Ben Taylor, a professor of political science at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, there are positive signs for both White House contenders.

According to Taylor, if he were running either of the campaigns, he would prefer to be in the position of the Trump campaign. However, he also acknowledges that this position is quite precarious.

Trump is currently dealing with obstacles in Georgia, as he has been criminally accused of trying to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. Last week, a judge made the significant decision to dismiss certain charges connected to Trump’s well-known phone call, in which he urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn President Biden’s victory. However, Trump still has 10 counts remaining in this legal case.

Audrey Haynes, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia, expressed concerns about the upcoming election, emphasizing the significance of each vote. She pointed out that if Trump were to repeat his previous strategies and end up losing, the consequences could be uncertain.

Haynes posed the question, “Will it be the nail in the coffin? Or will it be: ‘It’s rigged’ again, and then ‘we’re going to throw the whole country into chaos’ again?”

Nikki Haley, Trump’s former opponent, gained around 13 percent support in the GOP primary, even though Trump continued to secure early victories. This is noteworthy because some of the approximately 77,000 votes in Haley’s favor were likely cast after she withdrew from the race on March 6. These votes may serve as a potential protest against Trump.

The large number of Haley voters in a state that Biden narrowly won by only 12,000 votes in the previous election provides an opportunity for his reelection campaign to convince disenchanted Republicans to switch sides and support the Democratic party.

According to Taylor, even if those voters don’t switch parties, they could still be a challenge for Trump if they choose not to participate in the election.

Taylor believes that if the Biden campaign can maintain a close race in Georgia, it will benefit them in the long run. Not only will it help them secure Electoral College votes, but it will also force the Trump campaign to spend money they may not have by the end. Taylor emphasizes the strategic importance of this tactic for the Biden campaign.

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