There’s the literal payoff from putting the state in play: increased enthusiasm among donors. Democratic political consultant Tharon Johnson, who ran Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s (D) campaign, said he thinks the president is going to be “very competitive” in the state.
Johnson also said Obama would be “very focused on Georgia because Atlanta is a place that the president can raise a lot of money.”
The Obama campaign raised $11.4 million from Georgia in the 2008 cycle, most of it from the metro Atlanta area.
Atlanta already is a hot fundraising spot for Democrats, with both first lady Michelle Obama and White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, attending fundraisers there last month.
Joel McElhannon, a well-connected Atlanta-based Republican strategist, doubts Democrats can win the state. But he said he admires the strategy of attempting to put Georgia in play.
“If they’re successful, they get Republican candidates more focused on protecting their base than going after swing territories themselves. It’s very smart ball on their part, and they deserve credit for the hype. But the hype doesn’t match reality,” McElhannon said.
He believes the 47 percent Obama earned in Georgia in 2008 was the high-water mark, and predicts the president won’t be able to retain support in 2012 from white voters who are registered as independents.
McElhannon added: “I got a better shot of winning the Powerball than he does of winning Georgia.”