From 2016 Presidential

Closing Out 2015, Trump Support Remains Strong

If you had asked the Peach Pundit editors at the beginning of the year who would be leading the Republican presidential candidate race in Georgia as its residents prepare to sing Auld Lang Syne to close out 2015, none of us would have guessed Donald Trump. After all, an Insider Advantage poll taken in early February had Jeb Bush in the lead with 22% of the vote, followed by Scott Walker at 17%, and Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee sharing 16% each. The Donald was way back at 2%.

How things have changed. Walker, of course, dropped out of the race. A mid-December poll by WSB TV has Bush at 4.8%, Carson at 6.7% and Huckabee barely registering at 1.9%. The leader, of course, is Donald Trump with 43% of the vote.

One potential reason why Trump is a popular candidate in the Peach State is put forth this morning by Nate Cohn, writing in an Upshot column for the New York Times. In it, Cohn says Trump’s biggest support comes from areas where Democrats vote Republican, and in a state like Georgia, where over the past 20 years, many Democrats–including some current Republican state legislators and even Georgia’s governor–have moved to the Republican Party.

Quoting Cohn’s story:

But during the Obama era, many of these voters have abandoned the Democrats. Many Democrats may now even identify as Republicans, or as independents who lean Republican, when asked by pollsters — a choice that means they’re included in a national Republican primary survey, whether they remain registered as Democrats or not.

Mr. Trump appears to hold his greatest strength among people like these — registered Democrats who identify as Republican leaners — with 43 percent of their support, according to the Civis data. Similarly, many of Mr. Trump’s best states are those with a long tradition of Democrats who vote Republican in presidential elections, like West Virginia.

Cohn is using data from a large nationwide survey to back up his conjecture. It’s not quite a poll. It eliminates people who are undecided about who they would vote for, and targets likely Republican voters in November. But, he does provide a breakdown of estimated Trump support by congressional district. Based on that analysis, Trump’s biggest base of support in the Peach Stare is in congressional districts 3, 9, and 11, represented by Lynn Westmoreland, Doug Collins, and Barry Loudermilk, with 39% support. Next is the Buddy Carter’s 1st district with 38%, Rob Woodall’s 7th District with 37%, Tom Price’s 6th District with 36%, Austin Scott’s 8th District with 35%, and Sanford Bishop’s 2nd District with 34%.

The 5th District, held by John Lewis and the 13th District, held by David Scott each have 33% of the estimated Trump vote. Rick Allen’s 12th District and Tom Graves’s 14th District have 32%, and the districts with the least Trump support at 30% belong to Hank Johnson’s 4th District and Jody Hice’s 10th District.

In the heat of the summer, there were predictions that Trump’s popularity would fade going into the new year. With the Iowa caucuses a month away and the SEC primary 61 days from today, Trump remains as strong as ever.

OpinionSavvy Poll Shows Trump Continuing to Lead in Georgia

In a poll of Georgia likely GOP primary voters taken following Tuesday night’s Republican presidential Debate, Donald Trump leads the GOP horse race with 35% support, followed by Ted Cruz with 16%, Marco Rubio with 12%, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson and Chris Christie are tied with 6% each. Carly Fiorina has 5% and the remaining candidates have 2% or less. 6% are undecided.

When the choice of possible candidates was limited to the five considered most likely to win the nomination, the results were a bit different:

Donald Trump 40%
Marco Rubio 19%
Ted Cruz 18%
Ben Carson 9%
Jeb Bush 7%
Undecided 7%

The more limited poll shows a five point gain for Trump, but a virtual tie for Rubio and Cruz, especially when you consider if Carson were eliminated, his supporters would likely go to Cruz, while Bush’s supporters would likely to go Rubio.

Poll respondents said the top four debate winners were Trump, Cruz, Rubio and Christie, in that order. Losers were Bush, Trump, Carson and Kasich.

Finally, poll respondents were asked about the temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States proposed by Donald Trump. 70% supported the idea, with 43% strongly approving the measure. 27% disapproved, with 18% strongly disapproving. 3% were undecided. This, despite the fact that the proposed ban would have constitutional and treaty violation implications.

The poll was taken on December 16th and has a 4.2% margin of error. Update: View the crosstabs here.

Trump Leading In Current Poll, For Real

WSB-TV commissioned a poll from Landmark/Rosetta Stone, and reported Friday that the New York billionaire is currently leading the pack among Georgia Republican Primary voters. You should notice two things: first that the poll was conducted AFTER Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, and second that I didn’t use the word “likely” to describe the voters that were polled.

I emailed Landmark President Mark Rountree and he confirmed that the universe of voters for this poll was people who had actually voted in a Republican Presidential primary at least once. Here’s a snapshot of the crosstabs:

LandmarkCrosstabs121015 Trump’s candidacy and sustained popularity in nearly every survey of any kind or type has befuddled so many pundits that some are now questioning the accuracy of the polls themselves. It’s important to note that polls are a picture of a snapshot in time, and don’t have to be predictive in order to be accurate. And as Nate Silver points out: “In general, there has been a strong correlation between how well a candidate is performing on the ballot test and how much media coverage he’s receiving, although the causality is hard to determine. Trump seems to understand this; indeed, he seems to issue his most controversial remarks and proposals precisely at moments of perceived vulnerability.”  In other words, it may not just that Republican voters are enthralled with Trump, it may be that they’re hearing 15 times more “news” about him, which drives his poll numbers up, which creates more “news,” which creates another rise in the poll.

But that doesn’t explain a straw poll in Oglethorpe County that showed similar results.

Trump celebrated the news on Twitter and Facebook, of course, as though the first caucus vote in Iowa isn’t still six weeks away.

Predictive? Manipulated? Accurate? Leave your take in the comments.

Trump Takes Oglethorpe County Straw Poll

The Oglethorpe County Republican Party took a straw poll on Saturday at their booth at the Christmas in Oglethorpe celebration in Lexington. The clear winner in the straw poll, which covered over 200 people, was Donald Trump:

Donald Trump 42.9%
Ted Cruz 10.0%
Ben Carson 9.6%
Marco Rubio 4.6%
Mike Huckabee 2.3%
Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul 1.8%
Jeb Bush 1.4%
Undecided 23.7%

While the straw poll shows Trump’s support similar to the statewide Landmark / Rosetta Stone poll for WSB that was released Friday, there were far more undecided voters in the smaller sample. The results were also quite different than those in a straw poll back in August at the party’s annual pancake supper. That poll was among party regulars, while yesterday’s was among the general public.

Ted Cruz to Visit Georgia on December 18th and 19th

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz will visit Atlanta and Savannah next weekend as part of a “Take-Off With Ted” tour that will include twelve rallies in seven SEC Primary states in one week. The candidate will appear in Atlanta at 4:30 PM Friday, December 18th, and Savannah at 9 10 AM on Saturday the 19th.

Update: Cruz’s Atlanta appearance will be at the McCollum Field Hawthorne Aviation Hangar, 1723 McCollum Parkway in Kennesaw. Tickets are available here. His Savannah area appearance will start at 10 AM, and will be held at Ottawa Farms, 702 Bloomingdale Road in Bloomingdale. You can register to attend here.

A new poll commissioned by WSB TV shows Cruz in second place behind Donald Trump, with 19% of Republicans supporting him. Details of where Cruz will appear will be available soon. In addition to Georgia, Cruz will visit Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia.

Cruz Announces Additions to Georgia Leadership Team; County Chairs

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz named chairmen in 100 Georgia counties, and announced 15 new additions to his Georgia leadership team. In a prepared statement, both Sen. Cruz and State Chair Ralph Hudgens praised the additions.

“I am encouraged to have the endorsement of so many conservative Georgia leaders,” said Cruz. “We are continuing to build the strongest operation in Georgia to get out the message that is resonating with so many Americans. I’m confident that we’re building the conservative coalition to compete and win Georgia on Super Tuesday.”

“This is an incredibly powerful group of leaders from across Georgia,” said Hudgens. “It shows that Ted Cruz is the candidate that best reflects our Georgia values in the presidential race and that Georgia is confident a President Cruz will stand up and fight for them.”

View the list of new additions below the fold. Read more

Kasich SuperPAC Goes After Donald Trump in a New Video

The SuperPAC that has been supporting the candidacy of John Kasich is turning its sights on GOP presidential poll leader Donald Trump. New Day for America has purchased commercial time in Ohio and New Hampshire for a video called “Trump’s Greatest Hits.” Trump will make an appearance in Columbus tonight, and Kasich is governor of Ohio, From a press release:

As usual, I’m sure tonight will be really entertaining, but as Mr. Trump prepares for his latest nonsensical rant, Brussels is on lockdown, Paris remains under a state of emergency and cities across America are implementing measures to prevent a terrorist attack on U.S. soil,” said Connie Wehrkamp, New Day For America spokesperson. “The times are far too serious to entrust America’s ‘entertainer in chief’ with the grave responsibilities that come with the title of commander in chief. We can’t trust Donald Trump and New Day For America is committed to reminding voters of that between now and the primaries.”

The video is below.

Carson Overtakes Trump in New Insider Advantage Poll

Three and a half months before Republican primary voters hit the polls on March 1st, two outsiders continue to lead the latest survey of likely voters, conducted this week by Insider Advantage, and reported by Fox 5 Atlanta and Morris News Service. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson leads the poll with 26.3%, followed by Donald Trump with 24.0%. Others include Ted Cruz with 14%, Marco Rubio with 9%, Jeb Bush with 8% and Carly Fiorina with 6%.

This is the first Georgia poll since summer where Trump has not led all the other candidates. Carson appears to appeal to women, with 29.3%, compared to men with 23.0%. On the other hand, men prefer Trump, 27.4% to 20.8% for women. From the Morris News story:

“It is pretty clear that neither Carson or Trump are going anywhere and that Cruz is definitely on the rise,” said Matt Towery, a veteran political analyst and former head of InsiderAdvantage. “The debate performance results also suggest that Rubio is a candidate to watch in Georgia as we get closer to the primary season.”

Two-thirds of those polled Tuesday night watched the Fox Business Channel debate. Debate watchers rated Ted Cruz as the narrow winner over Marco Rubio, 22.2% to 21.5%. Trump was third with 19%, and Carson fourth with 15.96% of viewers saying he won the debate. John Kasich was named as the debate’s loser by 37.4% of viewers, followed by Jeb Bush with 20.3%.

The margin of error in the poll of 674 likely voters is 3.7%. For the debate poll, which only included those who saw it, the margin of error is 4.7%. According to the poll’s crosstabs, the poll is weighted to reflect the expected primary electorate, however that electorate would be 97% white, with 77% of voters over the age of 45 and 6% under age 30.

Rubio Campaign Gains Additional Georgia Endorsements

On the eve of Tuesday’s Fox Business Channel GOP debate, presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio earned the support of additional state and local elected officials in Georgia. The new supporters include:

House Majority Whip Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City)
State Representative Bill Werkheiser (R-Glennville)
State Representative Michael Caldwell (R-Woodstock)
State Representative Brian Strickland (R-McDonough)
State Representative Mike Dudgeon (R-Cumming)
Chuck Clay, Former GAGOP Chairman, State Senator and Cobb County Commissioner
Sandy Springs City Councilman Gabriel Sterling
Gwinnett County Commissioner Jace Brooks
Loganville City Councilman Rey Martinez
Kennesaw City Councilwoman Cris Eaton-Welsh
Hampton City Councilman Zakery Daniel

Rep. Ramsey, who previously was co-chairman of Scott Walker’s Georgia campaign said,

Senator Rubio has a vision for America that has set himself apart from the other candidates. At a time when the Republican Party needs to look towards the future, Marco Rubio has the leadership this country needs. I’m happy to endorse Marco Rubio for President and support his effort in Georgia.

Long-time Georgia Republican Chuck Clay added,

As Republicans, I’ve always felt it is incumbent upon us to bet on the future and the next generation to move our party forward. I also know, along with many others, that our country needs bold leadership and a change in direction. Marco has demonstrated he understands the importance of America’s strength in the world, he has what it takes to be the new leader of this nation and I’m proud to support him.

Since the last debate hosted by CNBC, Sen. Rubio has gained in nationwide polling, and is now in third place for the GOP nomination, behind Donald Trump and Ben Carson, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls.

Georgia Rapper Records Commercial for Carson Campaign

Beginning Friday morning, presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson will beginning running a 60 second radio ad in nine cities, including Atlanta. The ad is aimed at young black voters, and features rap music recorded by Aspiring Mogul, the stage name of Robert Donaldson of Savannah. The commercial is below:

An ABC News story says Carson believes he can win the presidency if he can earn 20% of the black vote.

“Reaching them on a level they appreciate and follow and see if we can attract their consciousness about the election,” Carson campaign spokesman Doug Watts told ABC News. “They need to get involved and express their voice through their vote.”

It’s a break from Carson’s typically broad campaign advertisements, catering to Christians, younger families and women older than 40.

This advertising appeal is an “expressed articulation to another market, a non-traditional voting market for Republicans,” Watts said.

Donaldson first got the attention of the Carson campaign after he recorded a four minute song entitled Republican Rap that mixed music with quotes from Carson. Carson posted the song on his Facebook page, where it has been listened to more than 632,000 times.

Donaldson is the founder of the Savannah Area Black Republican Council, is a district chairman for the Chatham County GOP, and is a past vice-chair of the Savannah Area Young Republicans.

CJ Pearson Leaves Ted Cruz Campaign

CJ Pearson, the 13 year old Grovetown, Georgia middle schooler sho has drawn attention far and wide for his youthful political activism has resigned his position of National Chairman of “Teens for Ted,” an effort to encourage millennials to vote for Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Pearson, an 8th grader from Grovetown, Ga., said via Twitter that he gave up the post because Cruz “wasn’t doing enough to address the issues important to young people like student loan debt and youth unemployment,” though he still loves Cruz and believes he’s a “once in a lifetime candidate.”

“I personally decided that I could make a much bigger impact for my generation, launching my own venture, than I could at the Cruz campaign,” said Pearson.

He told Cruz staffers Saturday of his decision, he said.

Prior to joining Teens for Ted in September, Pearson had supported Rand Paul. While Pearson did not indicate if he was supporting another candidate, or even if he would continue to support Cruz, he did tweet this after tweeting he was resigning from the Cruz campaign:

Hill Might Stomp Bernie, But Will Lose Georgia To Trump

WXIA sponsored a poll on the presidential preferences of Georgia voters in next year’s election. Trump and Carson are neck-and-neck, while Hillary Clinton is curb-stomping Bernie Sanders. But if the general election pits Trump against Clinton, Trump wins, 46% – 37% among decided voters. Key findings:

* Donald Trump leads Ben Carson 35% to 28% in the contest to be the Republican nominee for President for 2016.
* Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders 73% to 16% in the contest to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2016.
* If those two candidates are in fact the major-party nominees, Trump defeats Clinton in a general election today, 46% to 37%.

See for yourselves, right here.

It’s far enough out from the primary and the general that any poll taken right now can’t be said to be inaccurate. Check the temperature of the “average” Georgia Republican voter in the Presidential Preference primary and you’d probably see exactly those results. Just remember, we’re four months from that day, and things will change between now and then.

Most interesting, though is the potential match-up of Trump vs. Clinton in the general -which is still more than a year away. That’s an eternity in politics. I don’t think that number will change, because as bombastic and irritating as Donald Trump has been, he’s still preferable to Hillary Clinton.

Leave your own take in the comments.

GOP Exceeds Fundraising Goal At Last Night’s Dinner

GOP Logo courtesy of Wikipedia.Jon told you about last night’s Georgia Republican Party dinner featuring Frank Luntz. This morning the GAGOP released a statement saying they had exceeded the fundraising goal for the event. From a press release:

Last night, Georgia Republicans from throughout the state gathered at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center in Atlanta for the 2015 Chairman’s Dinner, which featured Republican pollster and “public opinion guru” Frank Luntz as the keynote speaker and many of Georgia’s top Republican elected officials and grassroots leaders. While contributions are still being collected, the event exceeded the Party’s fundraising goal of $150,000.

“The Georgia Republican Party is fortunate to have strong supporters who are committed to growing the base and earning victory for our nominees at the ballot box,” said Georgia Republican Party Foundation Chairman Jack Kingston. “I am confident that we will have the funds in place to launch an aggressive, comprehensive, data-driven victory program that protects our U.S. Senate seat and helps Republicans win back the White House in 2016!”

“Thanks to the outpouring of support from hardworking Republicans throughout the state, the Georgia Republican Party is equipped for battle,” said Georgia Republican Party Chairman John Padgett. “With our pro-growth, pro-freedom message, we can keep Georgia red and ensure that America’s best and brightest days are still to come.”

You too can donate to the Georgia Republican Party and help build a warchest for the 2016 elections.

Donald Trump Wins Gwinnett Fair Straw Poll

The Gwinnett County Fair wrapped up for the year on Sunday, and the Gwinnett GOP conducted a straw poll each day of the event among the fair visitors that stopped by their booth. With slightly less than 400 votes, Donald Trump ended up the winner.

Donald Trump 31.1%
Ben Carson 23.3%
Ted Cruz 11.2%
Carly Fiorina 10.2%
Marco Rubio 8.8%
Jeb Bush 5.6%
Mike Huckabee 3.5%
Rand Paul 2.9%
Chris Christie 1.6%
Bobby Jindal 1.1%
John Kasich 0.5%
Lindsay Graham 0.3%
Scott Walker 0.3%

Georgia National Fair Attendees Will Vote in Peanut Straw Poll

Attendees at next week’s Georgia National Fair in Perry will be able to register their presidential candidate preference in a new Peanut Straw Poll being promoted by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The poll is part of Kemp’s effort to elevate the Peach State’s prominence in the nomination process, and offers another opportunity for candidates to visit the Peach State.

Georgians will vote on Tuesday March 1st as part of the SEC primary, which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Other states voting that day include Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Vermont and Virginia.

According to a weekend story in the Athens Banner Herald,

“Georgia is attracting more attention from presidential candidates than it has in decades,” Kemp said in a Friday news release announcing the fair event, “and the Peanut Straw Poll gives them one more reason to come meet our voters and rally support for their campaigns, one Georgia-grown peanut at a time.”

The Peanut Poll will provide candidates a great opportunity to further their cause, meet Georgia voters face to face, and sample a large selection of fried foods,” Kemp said. “The road to the White House goes through Perry, and it’s paved with peanut shells.

Fair attendees can go to the Georgia Grown building and cast their vote by dropping a peanut in the mason jar for their candidate. Daily results will be compiled at 5 PM, and will be disseminated through Kemp’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. The fair runs from October 8th-18th.