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Trump heads to Georgia, one of the new 2020 battleground states

Trump defends coronavirus response
Trump defends coronavirus response, heads to Georgia to talk infrastructure 10:42

President Trump will be visiting Georgia on Wednesday to talk about infrastructure, but like his recent trips to Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin, this happens to be to a battleground state his reelection campaign is eager to keep in the "win" column in November. 

The latest CBS News Battleground Tracker poll rates Georgia as a toss-up for the presidential election; currently, Biden leads Mr. Trump by two points. Georgia voters have not picked a Democrat to be president since 1992, but the gains Democrats have made in recent elections with key groups have turned it into a state to watch. 

"Georgia looks like a toss-up because the president's support is strong among his current base, while Biden is performing better than past Democrats among groups such as women with college degrees, based on our Battleground Tracker model estimates," according to CBS News' Election and Surveys director Anthony Salvanto. 

The polls do not yet reflect voter's attitudes toward the current news of the day, but Georgia has come into increased focus nationally because of issues including coronavirus, police reform and voting rights. Georgia was the first state to reopen since the virus essentially shut the country down, and its infection rates have shot up — last week it set a single-day record for new cases in the state. And in June, the fatal police shooting of Rayshard Brooks spawned outrage about Atlanta Police Department's use-of-force policies.

Mr. Trump won Georgia in 2016 by 5 points, a smaller margin than that of 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who beat President Obama by 8 points. Suburban counties contributed in part to the Democrats' gains. In 2016, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won the suburban counties of Gwinnett and Cobb outside Atlanta that voted for Romney in 2012. 

The Trump campaign has recently made significant ad buys in Georgia. According to data from CMAG/Kantar, the campaign has about $2.4 million in reservations from July until Election Day. 

"I think that buying ad space is Campaigning 101, and it just shows the depth of our fundraising and our war chest," the Trump campaign's southeastern regional communications director Danielle Alvarez told CBS News. "We're firing on all cylinders, whether it's ad buys, TV, ground game, or data operation."

Two Trump campaign spokespeople suggested the Trump campaign has essentially had a continuous presence in the state since the last presidential election in 2016 and now has over 100 staff on the ground. 

Joe Biden's campaign has not yet made any ad reservations in Georgia heading into the end of the summer and the fall. Pro-Biden Super PAC Priorities USA also has not made big reservations in Georgia yet and is instead focusing big spending in other battlegrounds like Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. 

Georgia also has two Senate races in November. Although neither is considered a toss-up, Democrats are fielding candidates who are strong enough fundraisers to put Republicans on the defensive this fall. The Senate Leadership Fund, the Republican Super PAC that is aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has put over $12 million in ad reservations in the state from the beginning of July to Election Day. 

Republican Senator David Perdue will face former House candidate and investigative journalist Jon Ossoff. Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler will face a slew of candidates in a special election, including Republican U.S. House Representative Doug Collins, an ally of Mr. Trump's. Pastor Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Atlanta's famous Ebenezer Baptist Church,   is the major Democratic candidate in that race. If none of the candidates reaches 50%, the top two candidates will go to a runoff in January.  

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