“Neck and Neck”: Georgia’s Battleground Status Grows With Poor Polling and New Gaffes for Republican Senate Candidates

May 22, 2020

Yet another week ends with Republicans facing disastrous polling numbers and self-inflicted wounds at a time when they can least afford them

ATLANTA — Georgia Republicans are closing another week facing one disaster after another as their chances continue to shrink in the state.

This week, a new poll once again showed “Georgia becoming a true multi-contest battleground” with Democratic candidates leading both Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler along with Congressman Doug Collins in head-to-head matchups. And the polling again confirmed that the presidential contest in Georgia is also “neck and neck” — with former Vice President Joe Biden now opening up a small lead over President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Loeffler and Collins spent the week ramping up their intraparty attacks following news that Republican officials are now openly speculating whether Loeffler should leave the race entirely. Loeffler and her husband Jeff Sprecher are already trying to spend their way out of the problem, planning to go nuclear with “pointed attacks on Collins” in new ads after Sprecher made his largest political contribution ever to a pro-Trump super PAC in late April in an attempt to buy more political cover. Meanwhile, Loeffler still refuses to say whether she’s had contact with the FBI over her stock trading after giving over documents to federal authorities.

But Loeffler and Collins aren’t alone in facing a rough week. Perdue is also managing fallout after audio leaked of him comparing deaths from coronavirus to car accidents as “a certain number of us will die” from each. Perdue’s comments are so out of step with both Georgia voters and medical experts that Dr. Anthony Fauci had already said that comparing coronavirus to traffic accidents was “a false equivalency” while even Trump has previously “disputed” the comparison. Yikes.

Between Republicans’ growing scandals, their latest gaffes, and a continuing stream of poor polling numbers, this week is yet another example that “things are getting interesting in Georgia” as the GOP’s chances grow dimmer.

Read the latest coverage from the GOP’s wreck of a week:

AJC: Georgia Senate poll: Top Dems, Perdue essentially tied, Loeffler trails Collins

  • A poll released Tuesday suggests Jon Ossoff  may have an edge over his Democratic opponents in the race to beat U.S. Sen. David Perdue in November. It is the latest in a string of surveys that shows a tight race for the seat.
  • In Georgia’s other U.S. Senate contest, Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins tops a jumbled field racing to unseat incumbent Kelly Loeffler, who trails her three most prominent Democratic rivals in hypothetical one-on-one contests.
  • The survey, conducted by Civiqs for the left-leaning DailyKos outlet, showed each of the three leading Democrats in close head-to-head races against Perdue.
  • In hypothetical runoff matchups, Loeffler trailed each of her potential Democratic opponents by double-digits. Collins, meanwhile, was deadlocked with both Lieberman and Warnock, and led Tarver 45-42.
  • Like a spate of other recent surveys, it showed a neck-and-neck race for the White House in Georgia, with Democrat Joe Biden at 48% and President Donald Trump at 47%.

McClatchy: Loeffler’s campaign hoped for a reset. But senator’s stocks came under new scrutiny

  • Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s campaign was seeking a reset after a rocky first few months in the Republican’s tenure as a Georgia senator. Instead, an FBI investigation of a fellow senator suddenly placed Loeffler’s own stock sales front and center again.
  • Even before that development, several high-placed Republicans had told McClatchy that they were concerned that Loeffler’s stock sales had become too much of a distraction and she should consider dropping out of the special election for the Senate seat she currently holds.
  • “Her getting out of the race is something that I think that some people just need to sit down and talk about,” [ former Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland] said in a phone interview.
  • “This doesn’t need to spread like something in poison ivy and start getting on other people,” Westmoreland said in a recent interview. “Is this going to interfere with our congressional races, where we’re trying to win a couple of seats back, or is this going to interfere with the presidential election of President Trump? Is it going to interfere with Sen. David Perdue’s election?”
  • A person close to Trump who had previously expressed anxiety about Loeffler “endangering our Senate majority,” told McClatchy on Thursday that the new attention to her stock sales were even more worrisome.
  • A Georgia Republican strategist familiar with the race told McClatchy that down-ballot candidates in the state are “nervous as hell” that Loeffler’s stock sales will be an election issue that will spill over into their races.

POLITICO: Sen. Loeffler’s husband cuts $1 million check to pro-Trump super PAC

  • Jeff Sprecher, the husband of Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), sent a $1 million check to the leading pro-Trump super PAC even as she been fending off criticism around her family’s stock trading.
  • Sprecher, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, donated to America First Action on April 29, according to a report the Federal Election Commission filed Wednesday evening. America First has been described as the sole “approved outside non-campaign group” by the Trump campaign.
  • Sprecher’s donation came as Loeffler has faced increasing criticism over stock trading during the coronavirus pandemic. She offloaded stocks shortly after a classified briefing on Covid-19 in January.
  • Loeffler has committed her sizable personal wealth to her campaign for November, loaning her campaign $10 million and pledging more.

Vox: In leaked audio, Sen. David Perdue compares the risks of Covid-19 to car crashes

  • On a recent call with local business leaders, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) defended Georgia’s reopening process by comparing the risks of contracting Covid-19 to those of driving a car, indicating that calculating risk amounts to personal responsibility, according to a recording of the call obtained by Vox.
  • “We get in an automobile, we drive on our public roads, and a certain number of us will die on our public roads every year,” Perdue can be heard saying on the recording of a Zoom call with the Rome Floyd Chamber last Thursday.
  • Ironically, on the day of the call, the state of Georgia announced its 1,557th confirmed coronavirus death in the 15 weeks since the state’s first confirmed case, exceeding the 1,504 automobile deaths in the state in all of 2018, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
  • Infectious disease experts have dismissed comparisons between the virus and automobile accidents. “I think that’s a false equivalency to compare traffic accidents with — I mean, that’s totally way out,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said on March 20.

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