For the first time, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has neared the 50 percent mark in a national poll – this one by CNN:
[T]he new survey finds Trump’s lead is dominant, and his support tops that of his four remaining opponents combined. The businessman tops his nearest competitor by more than 30 points: 49% back Trump, 16% Marco Rubio, 15% Ted Cruz, 10% Ben Carson and 6% John Kasich.
Over the weekend, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll showed both Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida clearing the 20 percent hurdle that would allow them to collect at least a handful of delegates here:
In Georgia, Trump gets support from 30 percent of likely Republican voters — followed by Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio tied at 23 percent each, and Ben Carson and John Kasich tied at 9 percent each.
But it is that national CNN poll that has people talking. From an email sent to us this morning from Alan Abramowitz, the Emory University political scientist:
[Trump is] at 49% in new CNN national poll and has to be considered the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination. But 35 percent of Republicans say they definitely could not support him in general election. Clinton has 17 point lead in Dem race versus Sanders and 20 percent of Democrats say they definitely could not support her in general election.
I strongly suspect that both the 35 percent and the 20 percent are gross exaggerations of what would actually happen in a general election match-up, since they’re not based on real, head-to-head choices versus the opposing party nominees.
But it is significant that Trump’s number is substantially higher than Clinton’s. And the rhetoric on the GOP side supports the argument that unity is going to be much harder to achieve for them. And this was before the latest KKK/David Duke/white supremacist controversy for Trump. Trump is a ticking time bomb for the GOP.
The weekend was filled with Republican calls to line up behind a single candidate – Cruz or Rubio. In a text last night, Scott Johnson, the former chairman of the Cobb County GOP and current statewide co-chair of grassroots turnout for Cruz, explained why his candidate shouldn’t leave:
I agree we need to stop Trump. Ted won’t drop out because we understand that if he drops out it increases the likelihood of a Trump victory. The way I see it, if Cruz drops out, half of his voters will got to Trump. Assuring him a win. If Rubio drops out 80 percent of his votes will go to Cruz, assuring him a win. Only Ted Cruz can win and stop Trump.
From an op-ed by former state lawmaker Ed Lindsey, an ex-Jeb Bush supporter who wants a Rubio/John Kasich ticket:
While [Rubio] does not have the day-to-day governing experience that a governor would have, his background and broad endorsements demonstrate he can pull men and women of talent together to form a strong governing team — and he can demonstrate that quickly and clearly at the Republican Convention by putting John Kasich on the ticket with him.
On the other hand, there’s this:
In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s sweeping victory in South Carolina, a top African-American surrogate of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont had harsh words for the Georgia civil rights icon behind Clinton. Cornel West told Vice that he believed U.S. Rep. John Lewis had lost his way, an attack just days before Georgia’s Tuesday vote. From the story:
“There’s no doubt that the great John Lewis of 50 years ago is different than the John Lewis today,” West remarked. “He’s my brother. I love him, I respect his personhood, but there’s no doubt he’s gone from a high moment of Martin Luther King-like struggle to now [a] neoliberal politician in a system that is characterized more and more by legalized bribery and normalized corruption. That’s what big money does to politics. And the Clinton machine is an example of that.”
West repeatedly referred to both Lewis and Rep. Jim Clyburn, who was also involved in the civil rights movement and now represents South Carolina in the House of Representatives, as “neoliberal politicians.” The classification, he explained, refers to “a politics that proceeds based on financializing, privatizing, and militarizing.”
West said that Clyburn and Lewis had become “too well adjusted to Wall Street.” They are now a part of a system, he said, “in which politicians are well adjusted to injustice owing to their ties to big money, big banks, and big corporations, and turning their backs, for the most part, to poor people and working people. Poor people and working people become afterthoughts.”
The U.S. Census Bureau released a report offering a glimpse at Georgia’s electorate just ahead of the state’s Tuesday primary. Our AJC colleague Jeremy Redmon has the details:
In Georgia, for example, the voting-age population of 7.6 million people is younger and includes a greater percentage of blacks than the nation as a whole, the census report shows. Nearly half of the Peach State’s voting-age population — 49.6 percent — is 18-44 years old, compared to 47.1 percent for the nation. And 30.3 percent of Georgia’s voting-age population is black, compared to 12.5 percent for the nation.
Watch our boss, Kevin Riley, explain why the Atlanta Journal-Constitution doesn’t endorse political candidates on CNN over the weekend. The video is right here.
The Libertarians are coming: The party is holding its annual convention on Saturday in Marietta with a focus on the candidates seeking the Libertarian nomination for president.
Among those expected to attend are John McAfee, Steve Kerbel, Austin Peterson and Judge Jim Gray, who is representing former Governor Gary Johnson. More details are here.
Atlanta Magazine’s Max Blau caught up with Sen. Johnny Isakson recently.
Check out his interview here, which covers everything from Isakson’s Parkinson’s treatment to the legislature’s religious liberty bill. What caught our eye was the two-term senator’s answer to a question that’s quietly crossed the minds of many in Georgia:
Blau: You’ve said you’re running with the intention of serving a third full term. But I’ve heard people within Georgia politics theorize that you might hand off the seat to Gov. Deal, who could then appoint another Republican to office rather than risk the seat in an open election.
Isakson: Why in the world would anybody do that? I mean since November 17 of 2014, I’ve raised $5.6 million. When I’m not in Washington, I’m traveling the state campaigning, working to be re-elected, working on projects that have longitudinal solutions that are a lot longer out in the future than just one year. I think what I’m doing, and how I’m doing it, ought to be prima facie evidence that I’m not running to turn it over to the governor to appoint somebody else.”
Sen. David Perdue is explaining how the water wars fight in Congress last year led to him to vote for a $1.1 trillion government spending bill in December.
The massive bill peeved members of both parties, since it was chock full of unsavory compromises and that lawmakers did not have an opportunity to amend it at all before it was quickly signed into law days after it was released. Most members of the Georgia delegation decided to stick together and leverage their voting power to push party leaders to take out a provision that could have tipped the balance of power in the ongoing water wars, a strategy that ultimately worked.
Perdue said the scenario is the reason why Congress should emphasize a more orderly budget process. From his post on Medium:
Let’s be clear, this is not the way the budget process should work. In fact, since the current budget process was created in 1974 it has only worked four times in the past 40 years.
What’s worse, no one should be able to secretly insert contentious language into any bill without debate. The appropriations process should be an open one and not manipulated behind closed doors by a single member of Congress.
That’s why I’m fighting to change the budget process so it finally works. This is going to take a lot more than tinkering around the edges. We need to completely reinvent the process. Above all, no member of Congress should ever be forced to choose between adding to the national debt and protecting the people they represent.