By David Wright
(CNN) — Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in a surprising new poll of Georgia, edging the Republican nominee 44% to 40% among registered voters in the deep red state.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll, released Friday, showed Clinton with a 4-point lead over Trump, excluding third-party candidates. The Democratic nominee retains an advantage, 41% to 38%, with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein included in the survey. Johnson pulls 11% support, while Stein garners 2%.
Since 1964, Georgia has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate only three times — for favorite son Jimmy Carter in 1976 and 1980, and Bill Clinton in 1992.
According to the poll, Trump and Clinton are viewed unfavorably by an equal share of registered voters at 58% each. And the newspaper reports that “a majority of Trump backers said they see their decision as a vote against Clinton” as opposed to a vote for Trump.
Clinton’s surprising edge in Georgia follows a week of favorable national and battleground state polling for the former secretary of state after a bounce from the Democratic National Convention and fueled by Trump’s own difficult stretch.
Former Rep. Jack Kingston, a Republican from Georgia and adviser to Trump, dismissed the survey in an interview on CNN Friday.
Kingston explained, “We hear this every year about this time, ‘Oh, Georgia’s turning, it’s going to be a purple state and then it’s going to become a blue state,’ but it never happens. I think if you poll, and I think there were 862 people polled in this particular poll, if you poll downtown Atlanta, you skew your poll to Atlanta, then you get numbers like this. I don’t think the poll was very scientific at all.”
Kingston also argued Clinton would waste her time trying to flip Georgia blue. “I’ll say this as somebody who has run statewide in the state of Georgia and has helped dozens of candidates who have — I hope that Hillary Clinton spends a lot of time in Georgia and spends a lot of money because that will free up our resources to go to Pennsylvania, Florida and other states.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll was conducted between August 1 and 4, and surveyed 847 registered Georgia voters. It has a margin of error of +/- 4 points.