Could Trump Put Georgia in Play for Democrats?

It’s no great insight that the Republican Party is in serious trouble. The presumptive GOP nominee is openly at war with the party’s establishment, which is trying to determine whether to embrace him or or pretend he isn’t running at the top of the ticket. But just how bad is it?

Bad enough that even Georgia may be seriously in play for Democrats this cycle, a state that wasn’t supposed to be demographically viable for the blue team for at least another half decade. A new poll has some surprising numbers.

Nearly 1 in 5 voters said they have not made up their minds, according to an exclusive Channel 2 poll conducted by Landmark/RosettaStone.

The poll, first reported by WSB-TV, shows that Trump has a slight edge over Clinton, leading 42.3 to 41.4 percent, while 15.6 percent are undecided.

The poll, conducted on May 5, also shows more than a third of independent voters have not made up their minds about a candidate.

One shouldn’t make too much of numbers like these early on in the race. Partisan attitudes tend to solidify, and most Republicans will come home to Trump as the GOP machine and its adherents stare a potential Clinton presidency hard in the face. The biggest reason for the tie at the moment is that more than twice as many Republicans (15%) are undecided as Democrats. That number will shrink in Trump’s favor as the election approaches.

But even so, that antipathy to Trump among nearly a fifth of Republican voters and a large number of independents suggests that the state could at least be close, and that a significant number of disaffected conservative voters may simply stay home, which would have positive effects downballot for Democrats.

I’m often hard on Democratic leaders for their tendency to listen more to their centrist wing and wealthy donors than to their progressive base. The fact that Third Way continues to have currency and ready ears within Democratic Congressional offices is lamentable. And it’s still mindboggling that most Democratic consultants are still somehow more afraid of repeating the “mistakes” of Mondale and McGovern all those many years ago in being too liberal, than the much more recent and dramatic mistakes of Al Gore and John Kerry in being too conservative, cautious and uninspiring.

But let’s make no mistake. The Democratic Party could nominate Clinton or Sanders. It could switch out either of them and nominate Elizabeth Warren, Martin O’Malley or Joe Biden. The differences would be minor and the White House would still be painted blue.

Republicans are in complete disarray. Despite holding the majority of legislatures, governorships and Congressional seats, it’s not entirely clear they have a unifying ideology or coherent structure. The next few elections will be deceptively kind to them in terms of keeping many of their state and federal holdings, but the doom is obvious over time.

And with the nomination of Trump this year, the timetable for their road to destruction and/or realignment is likely to accelerate significantly.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.