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Georgia's a 2020 battleground, but it's not the premier presidential hot spot

By Greg Bluestein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Political News

ATLANTA - President Donald Trump's son Eric shared the stage Tuesday with evangelical pastors in Atlanta's northern suburbs to tout his father's campaign. A day earlier, Dr. Jill Biden "virtually" traveled to Georgia to talk about her husband Joe's plan to help military veterans.

The attention from the relatives of White House hopefuls reflects how Georgia remains in the mix in November. But it is not generating the level of intensity seen in Pennsylvania, Florida and other battlegrounds where Trump and Biden are warring.

Democrats might take solace that the mere fact that Biden is threatening in Georgia has forced Republicans to play defense. Recent polls show a tight race in the state, which Republicans have carried in every White House race since 1996.

Republicans, meanwhile, crow about the campaign's robust in-person presence in the state, mindful that Trump has no clear path to victory if he loses Georgia.

"The silent majority is not all that silent anymore," said Eric Trump, speaking to a crowd of hundreds at an Evangelicals for Trump event outside a barn in Cumming, before falsely boasting: "Biden, in his entire campaign, hasn't pulled this many people."

Biden has other routes to 270 Electoral College votes if he falters here. He has focused mainly on the Rust Belt states that Trump flipped in 2016 - Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin - as well as Minnesota, which Hillary Clinton narrowly carried four years ago.

 

Biden's campaign is also redoubling its efforts in Arizona and Florida, two states that would essentially doom Trump's chances at a second term if they flipped.

Though Georgia is no afterthought for Biden strategists, it's also not the lowest-hanging fruit on the battleground map.

Carl Cavalli, a University of North Georgia political scientist, describes a "skepticism among Democrats and nervousness among Republicans."

"The closeness of the race and unease about a 2016 repeat is pushing Democrats to invest in our state," he said. "Similarly, Republicans are used to Georgia being in the bag, but that closeness and unease nationally are leading them to inject resources where they may not have wanted to."

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