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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

Biden recently beefed up his campaign staff, hiring a local communications director and adding a "voter protection" guru in the state. A slate of virtual Georgia grassroots events are on the schedule. And in a recent interview on Channel 2 Action News, Biden downplayed a poll that showed him trailing Trump.

"The polling I've seen locally as well as nationally, the state of Georgia, I'm doing just fine," Biden said. "I'm doing better than any Democratic presidential candidate has in a long, long time. And it's very competitive."

And Trump's campaign has steadily ramped up its efforts to fortify the state. While Biden's operation in Georgia has stuck to online events to avoiding spreading the coronavirus, Trump's staffers and volunteers have been back in the field since June.

Brian Barrett, the Trump campaign's regional director, calls the door-to-door canvassers the president has amassed a "field army that can be the foundation that all Georgia candidates can stand on."

And on Tuesday, the campaign released a new ad in Georgia as part of a $10 million buy across competitive states. The 30-second TV spot warns that a Biden administration would lead to an "economy in ruins," pivoting to one of the few issues where Trump leads Biden in the polls.

At Tuesday's event in Cumming, the Trump campaign spotlighted evangelical voters, whose overwhelming support in 2016 helped him narrowly defeat Clinton.

 

This election, support from religious voters has dipped. An August survey by Fox News showed Biden hovering at 28% support among white evangelicals - that's an improvement of 12 percentage points from Clinton's performance in 2016 exit polls.

"All this progress, all these victories, can go away in a heartbeat on November 3," Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed one of the nation's strictest anti-abortion measures last year, said at Tuesday's even. "If we tire, if we lose faith, you know what we get? Joe Biden. And you know what we get with that? Liberal judges."

A day earlier, Jill Biden held a virtual event that featured Georgia military families and highlighted her husband's veterans' agenda. She ended it with a plea for support from Georgians.

"The stakes in this election couldn't be higher. We have just 50 days to make sure our voices are heard. Fifty days to make calls and to talk to our friends. Fifty days to make sure we wake up on November fourth knowing we did everything we can."

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