Why Donald Trump could make Georgia a purple state

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in West Palm Beach, Fla. AP file/Brynn Anderson

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in West Palm Beach, Fla. AP file/Brynn Anderson

Much has been written about how Donald Trump’s ability to attract working-class white voters could put Michigan, Ohio and other Midwestern swing states in play for Republicans.

But Larry Sabato, the University of Virginia political scientist, argues this morning that the Trump effect could mark Georgia and three other red states as possible pickups for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by turning off suburban women and moderates.

And he writes that, for the moment, the GOP is an “underdog” in the race for 270 electoral votes, giving Democrats the edge in Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio.

Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball electoral map predictions.

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball March electoral map predictions.

From Sabato’s Crystal Ball:

Over the years we’ve put much emphasis on the seven super-swing states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia. While some will fall to the Democrats less readily than others, it is difficult to see any that Trump is likely to grab. In fact, four normally Republican states (Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri) would be somewhat less secure for the GOP than usual. North Carolina, which normally leans slightly to the GOP, would also be well within Clinton’s grasp in this election after being Mitt Romney’s closest win in 2012.

Polls may be ephemeral and sometimes wildly inaccurate, yet surveys (and demographics) are the only hard data we have this far out from the election. The polling averages for a Clinton-Trump face-off show roughly a 10 percentage point lead for the Democrat. RealClearPolitics has Clinton up about 11 points and HuffPost Pollster gives Clinton a lead of about nine points. This kind of Democratic advantage, if properly distributed, would produce an Electoral College result similar to, or greater than, Barack Obama’s 2008 total of 365 electoral votes to John McCain’s 173 (Obama won the national popular vote by 7.3 points). Again, this suggests that one or more states currently rated Likely Republican (Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri) might slip into the Democratic column.

The counter to that, of course, is Trump’s show of force in Georgia. He swept all but four of Georgia’s counties and won nearly every demographic, from the very wealthy to the poor, from independents to conservatives, and from evangelicals to the secular. The depth and breadth of his support among Republicans in Georgia will make it hard for Democrats to build their case.

More: Trump’s Georgia win illustrates how he’s capitalized on a political shift

UPDATE: AJC poll shows Georgia could become a purple state in November 2016

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