Joe Crespino at the NY Times makes the case that Georgia is truly in play for Hillary Clinton, just as it was for her husband when he won the Peach State in 1992, and argues that it may become the new key swing state going forward as Trump may have blown his chances there to lock the state down by using the Southern Strategy.
Richard M. Nixon pulled it off artfully in his two successful campaigns, appearing mostly in Southern cities and suburbs and letting Thurmond work the Deep South circuit. Ronald Reagan folded in religious conservatives in the 1980s to replace the generation of Dixiecrats dying off, thus consolidating the powerful mix of cultural reaction and economic conservatism that is modern Republicanism.
Yet this year that mixture may not work. Mr. Trump’s extreme language and divisive policies are alienating moderate Republicans in places like the Atlanta exurbs — where Mrs. Clinton is running nearly even with Mr. Trump. And across the state, polls show a significantly low number of Republicans saying they’ll support their party’s candidate.
Mr. Trump’s campaign most closely resembles the presidential campaigns of George C. Wallace, the arch-segregationist Alabama governor. Indeed, Wallace’s legacy is telling. An economic progressive, he remained a Democrat his entire life. True, he galvanized white working-class disenchantment and pioneered a populist, anti-liberal rhetoric that Ronald Reagan and subsequent Republicans would use to devastating effect. Yet he never had much appeal among the new class of suburban whites; the two were like oil and water. So, too, it would seem, are Donald Trump and moderate Southern Republicans today.
Whether or not Republicans hold on to Georgia and South Carolina this year, the lessons they are likely to take away are predictable. Democrats will assume that these states, like Virginia and North Carolina, are part of a long-term liberal trend and push traditional liberal ideas harder in future elections. Republicans will most likely write off Mr. Trump as a one-time phenomenon and not do anything. In doing so, both parties will ignore lessons from the history of the Southern conservative majority.
What might be happening instead is something new in the South: true two-party politics, in which an urban liberal-moderate Democratic Party fights for votes in the increasingly multiethnic metropolitan South against an increasingly rural, nationalistic Republican Party. If that happens, it will transform not only the politics of the American South, but those of America itself.
Another thing to note is that Georgia now has 16 electoral votes, up from 13 when Bill Clinton won the state in 1992. The new swing state axis in the future may not be Ohio-Pennsylvania-Florida anymore, but GA-NC-FL, especially given the fact Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes, like Michigan and its 16 electoral votes, have been reliably Democratic since Bill Clinton's first term.
The country's new purple state battleground might be these states and maybe even the entire East Coast Southern region (including Virginia and even South Carolina) one day soon.
Speaking of Virginia, Clinton is up by a whopping 16 points, 48-32%, over Trump in that state in the latest Roanoke College poll.
We'll see how that holds up in the next few weeks.