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.