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Does Trump's Decline In The Polls Put Georgia Back In Play?

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Donald Trump continues his slide in the polls. That's following an extraordinary week in which women, a growing number of them, stepped forward and accused Trump of groping and kissing them without their consent. A key question is whether Trump's decline now puts some predictably red states within reach of Hillary Clinton. Today marks 23 days and counting until the election, and we are marking it by checking in with different corners of the country where the campaign is playing out in unexpected ways. We begin this hour in Georgia. That's where Jim Galloway covers politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Jim Galloway, good morning.

JIM GALLOWAY: Good morning.

KELLY: You had a column that had this headline - "A Donald Trump Implosion Could Put Georgia Back In Play." So let me start with you there. Is Georgia back in play?

GALLOWAY: Well, we don't know yet. We haven't seen the hardcore evidence, which is increased TV advertising, visits from, at least if not the candidates themselves, some principle surrogates. That hasn't happened. But you've seen little things happen. You've seen - you've seen - we've got Evan McMullin, the Never Trump fellow, coming through here on Monday. It's - I will tell you what - this Donald Trump video is making an impact, but it's happening slowly.

KELLY: This is the video where we see him making inappropriate comments.

GALLOWAY: Right, exactly, right. I mean - I mean, Georgia has such a - it's such a high population when it comes to to evangelical Christians. This really is roiling - it's splitting them quite a - right in half. And the impact of that - we just haven't been able to measure that. I would - I would guess that we're going to - the newspaper will be doing some polling within the next week to 10 days, and I think that's when we'll really get a firm handle on what's going to happen. A previous poll earlier last - late last week had Donald Trump still at 48 percent, Clinton at 42.

KELLY: So narrowing. I mean, you mentioned polling, and I know that NPR's latest battleground map had Georgia at the start of the month - at the start of October - leaning Republican. And we just moved it into the tossup category.

GALLOWAY: It is - look, it's entirely possible. The last time the state went blue was in 1992 for Bill Clinton. And what happened was that Ross Perot just gobbled up 12 percent of the vote, mostly Republican. And the final tally was Bill Clinton 43 percent, George H.W. Bush maybe a half percentage point below him. So it was very tight.

KELLY: I mean, we should remind people of the political landscape in Georgia. The governor, both senators, all Republicans. I know Democrats struggled even to find somebody to run against the incumbent, Senator Johnny Isakson, earlier this year. If the - just in a sentence or two, if I had called you six months ago and told you Georgia would be a tossup three weeks before Election Day, would you have believed me?

GALLOWAY: Oh, of course not, no, no, no, no. And I will tell you what - there's a kind of a halfway mark between the status quo and and Hillary Clinton taking the state of Georgia. And that is if Donald Trump plunges enough, then he does hurt Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson in the U.S. Senate race. You know, we have - we have a - we require our candidates to earn 50 percent-plus-one. And we've got a three-way race in the U.S. Senate race. If Isakson dips below 50 percent, then that's a nine-week runoff. That could be the real impact.

KELLY: All right. That's the view from Georgia. Ahead this hour, we'll head to Maine to hear how the political landscape there may be shifting. We've been talking to Jim Galloway. He's covered politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for three decades. Thanks a lot.

GALLOWAY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.