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Democrats fear Biden will lose Georgia

Dontaye Carter, Democratic Party organizer in Fulton County, Georgia, has a direct message for Joe Biden from the front lines of the American South’s most crucial political battleground.

He sees troubling signs that Biden’s re-election campaign will struggle to assemble the young, racially diverse voters he needs to again defeat Donald Trump, his Republican rival.

Carter doesn’t see Trump gaining much support in this disproportionately African-American liberal stronghold that runs through the heart of Atlanta — but many black men in particular are “resigned” and might skip the election, he said.

“This is the problem we have to solve,” Carter said at a Mediterranean restaurant in Sandy Springs, north of the Georgia capital, after a party meeting Thursday evening.

“Someone has to ring the bell to say the house is on fire, and no one rings the bell.”

With less than six months until the November general election, Biden is working to consolidate and revive the center-left political base that helped him unseat Trump in 2020.

Dontaye Carter, Georgia Democratic Party organizer
Dontaye Carter, a Democratic Party organizer in Georgia, worries that many young black men in the state may not participate in this year’s presidential election. © James Politi/FT

This is particularly urgent in Georgia, which was crucial for Democrats in the last election, when Biden won the state’s 16 Electoral College votes by a tiny margin. Voters then returned two senators to Washington, giving the party control of the upper chamber.

Georgia was also at the center of Trump’s efforts to overturn the outcome of that election, as he implored the state’s top election official in a phone call to “find” him 11,780 votes to overturn his count. Trump and several allies were indicted last year for these efforts, although his trial date has not yet been set.

Despite this controversy, Trump has momentum in the state, according to polls.

Part of the reason is that Biden’s hold on the non-white vote has declined over the past four years. There are several causes: disenchantment with high inflation and the cost of living, fractures over his handling of the war in Gaza, and disappointment, particularly within the black community, with the failure to reach deals in Congress to protect voting rights and reform the police.

Scotty Smart, Democratic activist from southwest Atlanta
Scotty Smart, a Democratic activist from southwest Atlanta, says social media has worsened political discourse in the state. © James Politi/FT

Biden leads Trump 55 to 14 percent among black voters in Georgia, compared to an 88 to 11 percent advantage in CNN exit polls in the state, according to a NYT/Siena survey released this week. In 2020, Biden trails Trump by six percentage points, although he is also behind at this point in the race in 2020 and won with a late surge, according to the Fivethirtyeight.com polling average.

“It’s going to be a close race — it was close last time,” Scotty Smart, a Democratic political activist from southwest Atlanta, said at the lunch counter of a local TGI Friday restaurant. “The environment is a little different though. I think it’s going to be a little more difficult.

Biden is trying to address these concerns. The president delivered the commencement address Sunday at Morehouse College, the historically black college in Atlanta where the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. studied.

He touted his administration’s investments in black communities, his appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first black female Supreme Court justice, his student loan relief program, and said he was trying to establish a “immediate ceasefire” and “lasting peace” in the country. Gaza. “I know it breaks your heart, it breaks mine too,” he said of the conflict.

Without mentioning Trump, Biden also lambasted “extremist forces aligned against the meaning and message of Morehouse.” Earlier in the week, Biden directly attacked his rival during an appearance with Big Tigger, an Atlanta radio host.

“Look, Trump hurt black people every chance he got,” he said. “Black unemployment. . . increased under Trump. Trump’s tax plan has reinforced discrimination. . . They botched the response to Covid-19, leaving Black people dead and Black-owned businesses closed.

“He wants our vote, he needs our vote, because he knows Donald Trump is for everyone,” said Faris Womack, a Morehouse graduate, standing outside the campus bookstore Friday.

Womack said he would vote for Biden because he is the “best option right now” but had “mixed opinions” about him. “When it comes to his politics and the way he does things, I question it sometimes. This whole thing with Palestine is screwed,” Womack said.

But Chris, another graduate who declined to give his last name and voted for Biden in 2020, is leaning toward Trump this year, primarily for foreign policy reasons.

Faris Womack, student at Morehouse College in Atlanta
Faris Womack, a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, said he has “mixed opinions” about Joe Biden, but that the Democratic leader is the “best option” for this year’s presidential election. © James Politi/FT

“A lot of people overseas are pushing us,” he said. “(Trump) is a tyrant, he’s a bad guy. He is who he is, but people are not going to try to bother us if they think our president is dangerous.”

Democrats hope that even if Biden loses ground with some of his base – including black men – he can make up for it by improving his performance with older moderate voters and women who have been turned off by Trump and outraged by his role in restricting the right to abortion. .

Some anti-Trump Republicans in Georgia have already backed Biden, including Geoff Duncan, the state’s former lieutenant governor, who wrote in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he would support “an honest person with whom I am not agree on policy regarding a criminal accused without authorization.” moral compass.

The Biden campaign is also expanding its offices and campaign operations more quickly, raising money more efficiently and already spending money — including $14 million on television ads in swing states targeting nonwhite voters. And they hope that once Biden and Trump hold their first televised debate in late June in Atlanta, the contrast with the Republican rival will help energize their voters.

But Republicans are also confident they are on track to win back Georgia, provided Trump can win back the traditional conservatives who favored Nikki Haley in the party’s primaries this year and build the party’s right-wing base. former president.

“Republicans need to get better at voting early and not waiting until Election Day,” said Bob Anderson, a retired marketing consultant at a Republican booth at a state fair in Roswell, a northern suburb of Atlanta.

For Smart, the Democratic activist, the worry is what he calls “the landscape of political ignorance” — including the belief he’s heard repeated among some voters that it was Trump who handed out the welfare checks. $1,400 stimulus in early 2021. Actually, it was Biden. .

People “didn’t know who was doing what, who was responsible for what, who was responsible for what, and social media sometimes hurts that conversation,” Smart said.

Carter warned that major drivers of Black turnout in 2020 — including fallout from the pandemic and outrage over the killing of George Floyd — had faded. Biden needed to make a better case for re-election than he is currently offering.

“This whole ‘Everyone but Trump’ message isn’t going to work. It falls on deaf ears,” he said.

News Source : www.ft.com
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