Democrats could still chip away at Mr. Trump’s margins with such voters, Mr. Thurmond argued, in part by dispelling the notion that supporting racial justice and opposing “rioting and looting” are somehow at odds.
“You don’t have to choose,” he said. “But Republicans know that you can sell fear at a very low price. And they’ve taken the defund-the-police message to mean we don’t want any police, which is ridiculous.”
At the same time, Mr. Thurmond said, “we haven’t done a very good job in defining what it does mean.”
Mr. Thurmond pointed to Ms. McBath as someone trying to wrest the issue back from Republicans. She once more faces Ms. Handel in her re-election bid in Georgia’s Sixth District, among the best-educated congressional districts in the country, and has repeatedly emphasized that she does not want to defund the police. “That has never come out of my mouth,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week.
That Mr. Biden’s own insistence against defunding the police hasn’t resonated as deeply with white degree-holders in Georgia is in part a function of resources. With multiple true battleground states up for grabs, from Florida to Pennsylvania, Democratic strategists acknowledged that there’s only a moderate incentive to divert cash and time to places like Georgia and Texas, tight as the polling may be. Ultimately, Mr. Biden has a number of paths to 270 electorate votes should he lose Georgia; Mr. Trump, however, has a much narrower path.
Mr. Trump has visited the state multiple times since taking office, including a rally on Friday in Macon. September alone saw campaign swings from Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. On Sept. 25, the president appeared in Atlanta as part of his Black Voices for Trump initiative, which he launched in the state last fall. During the Republican National Convention, the campaign featured Vernon Jones, a Black Democratic state representative supporting Mr. Trump. Following the convention, Mr. Jones called on his party to “condemn Black Lives Matter and then Antifa.”
Brian Robinson, a Republican strategist in Georgia, is hopeful that the new Supreme Court vacancy will allow Mr. Trump to solidify any incremental gains he has made through his law-and-order message.
“You’re hearing people now saying that they don’t like Trump, but that the Supreme Court opening has reminded them why it’s important to have a Republican in the White House,” he said. “It’s another example of people who were wavering before, but are now back firmly with Trump.”