Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Candidates Face off on Super Tuesday; Georgia Voters Hoping to Influence Nominee Picks

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Candidates Face off on Super Tuesday; Georgia Voters Hoping to Influence Nominee Picks

Article excerpt

Byline: Kathleen Foody

ATLANTA | Voters in Georgia get their say in the presidential race Tuesday, with one of the largest delegate totals up for grabs among 12 states.

Georgia's deep-red status and pool of delegates is drawing last-minute visits from multiple Republican candidates ahead of "Super Tuesday." Democrats, meanwhile, know black voters are essential to winning a primary.

Recent polling in the state shows Donald Trump leading the Republican race and Hillary Clinton with a double-digit lead on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who championed the effort to set the March 1 primary date, said the change gives Georgians a chance to impact both parties' presidential nominee. Republican voters include a variety of people, from evangelicals, to tea party members, to those focused solely on economic issues, he said.

"It's got something for everybody," Kemp said.

Eric Tanenblatt, a Republican consultant who hasn't committed to a campaign since Jeb Bush's exit, said the state tends to break down by region in GOP primaries and ensure delegates are awarded proportionally rather than all going to the popular vote winner.

He expects Ted Cruz to do well in rural parts of the state, including north Georgia, while Marco Rubio and John Kasich will battle for support in metro Atlanta and along the coast.

"I think you're going to see that kind of division across the South, and Tuesday's primary won't clarify much," Tanenblatt said.

A clear second-place victor could make a strong argument that he is the only alternative to Trump, said Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University. If Rubio distances himself from Cruz, or vice versa, the winning senator will try to win over the other's supporters, she said.

"The question then becomes whether a Cruz voter is comfortable voting for Rubio or would prefer Trump," she added.

Rubio and Cruz held separate rallies in metro Atlanta on Saturday; Rubio planned to return Monday. …

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