Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In Georgia, Hillary Clinton’s path to victory could be paved by a Libertarian

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
 LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 04: Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, hand detail, waits to speaks after touring Mojave Electric Co. on August 4, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to recent polls, Clinton leads her opponent Republican Donald Trump in several swing states including New Hampshire and Florida. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images) Assignment:

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, while touring Las Vegas, Nevada. David Becker/Getty Images

So by now you know that the AJC has a new poll out that shows Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with a slim lead over Republican rival Donald Trump among Georgia voters.

That’s not to say that she’ll take the state in November. We still have 90-plus days to go. But the survey does map out a possible path to victory in Georgia for the first female presidential candidate representing a major national party.logo-all

That path is Libertarian Gary Johnson, who is pulling double digits. Click here for some crosstabs.

In a presidential campaign that pits two highly unpopular candidates against one another, a measureable amount of Georgia voters are looking at Johnson as a palatable alternative.

In a head-to-head match, including leaners, Clinton outpolls Trump, 48 to 44 percent, within the poll’s margin of error. When Johnson is added, Clinton’s lead shifts slightly – 43 percent to Trump’s 39 percent to 12 percent for Johnson. Statistically, that’s not a measurable change.

Johnson appears to hurt both major party candidates, especially among independents. In the head-to-head, Clinton draws 48 percent of the independent vote in a contest without Johnson, but only 36 percent with Libertarian in the contest. Trump sinks from 46 to 36 percent among independents. Again, that’s a draw.

But Johnson could hurt Trump more by giving Republicans uncomfortable with his candidacy a place to shelter.  The Libertarian pulls three Republicans in for every Democrat.

In a head-to-head match-up, 95 percent of Democrats in Georgia are with Clinton. That number doesn’t change much when Johnson’s candidacy is added.

Trump pulls 86 percent of Republicans in a one-on-on match-up with Clinton. But his GOP support sinks to 81 percent with Johnson added. The numbers suggest that the Libertarian puts a cap on Trump’s Georgia strength within the GOP.

Remember two things: Georgia’s electoral votes go to the winner by plurality. It’s not necessary to reach 50 percent. And the last time a Democrat presidential candidate won the state – Hillary Clinton’s husband in 1992, Ross Perot provided the third-party wedge.

The November 1992 numbers: Bill Clinton, 43.47 percent; George H.W. Bush, 42.88 percent; Perot, 13.34 percent.

That was a very, very close contest. And not too much different from the numbers we’re presenting today.

***

Today’s poll also makes these remarks from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a little more believable. From Roll Call:

“The last [re-election] for President Obama, he never stepped foot in Georgia, but yet he lost by about 3 percent. Georgia is Hillary Clinton’s and I’m glad she’s going to be campaigning there.” Reid told reporters in Nevada on Thursday.

Reid was a bit off. Mitt Romney actually carried Georgia by about 8 percentage points in 2012. The Senate minority leader’s answer came after he was asked about the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA letting its ad buys in Virginia and Colorado lapse, a sign of growing confidence in the Democratic nominee’s poll numbers.

“I don’t know about Utah, but I am confident she will in Arizona and I’m confident she will in Georgia,” Reid said, according to the newspaper. 

***

Breaking with his ally Donald Trump, former Georgia lawmaker Newt Gingrich backed the reelection bid of U.S. Sen. John McCain, describing the Arizona Republican as a “national treasure” in a campaign video for the incumbent. Watch for yourself here:

Gingrich’s endorsement goes against Trump, who said earlier this week that he couldn’t endorse McCain and that the former POW hasn’t done enough for veterans.

Our only remaining question: does this mean Nicholas Cage will be involved?

***

Uncensored Facebooks and Twitter messages are a different matter, but we’re seeing a restrained reaction among Democrats to the news that both former Gov. Roy Barnes and former U.S. senator Sam Nunn have endorsed U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s re-election bid with their checks. (Top lines on a new AJC poll on the Senate race can be found here.)

From Michael Smith, spokesman for the Democratic party of Georgia:

“Georgia needs a U.S. Senator that will do their job, not stall dutifully nominated Supreme Court justices or ignore their committee hearings. Georgia Democrats believe it’s past time for change in our state, and that’s why we support Jim Barksdale.”

And from the Barksdale campaign:

“Multiple polls this week show that Georgia’s U.S. Senate race is at single digits and it’s no surprise Republicans are scrambling in order to address the strength of Jim Barksdale’s outsider candidacy. As Senator Isakson said last week, it doesn’t matter what size check one writes, it’s about working to earn the job for the next six years – a job that Senator Isakson has refused to do considering his silence at 71 percent of his Senate Commerce Committee hearings.”

***

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson’s little-known Republican opponent is trying to use the DeKalb Democrat’s controversial remarks comparing Jewish settlers in the West Bank to “termites.”

Victor Armendariz, who faces Johnson in the heavily-Democratic district, said Johnson’s comments were “despicable and appalling.”

“But it goes beyond words. We the people, voters, must ask the question, why was Mr. Johnson speaking to this anti-Israel group in the first place,” he said. “How can someone who is currently on an apology tour look at the Jewish people in the eye and say that he stands with them or he understands and is on the side of Israel?”

He’s referring to the peace talks Johnson held with Jewish leaders this week who were infuriated by his remarks.

***

Giveaways are common fundraising tools, but this offer may just take the proverbial political cake.

Former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun is trying to pay off his debt from his failed congressional bid earlier this year. The grand prize? A semiautomatic rifle. A 223-caliber Bushmaster Model 91046, to be exact.  Via The Athens Banner-Herald:

Broun said Thursday that any money raised through the sweepstakes will be utilized by the Paul Broun Committee, for purposes that “could” include retiring debt from this year’s campaign. The committee also has other financial obligations, Broun said, but he did not specify those obligations.

It’s also possible that money raised through the sweepstakes could be used to purchase additional Bushmaster rifles for future sweepstakes, according to Broun.

The sweepstakes opened Aug. 1, and the winner of the Bushmaster rifle will be chosen in a random drawing on Aug. 19.


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