Why Democrats Are Hopeful in North Carolina and Nervous in Georgia

Democrats are starting to dream that President Biden can wrench North Carolina away from Donald J. Trump in November.

They’re less confident that Mr. Biden can hold on to Georgia.

The two Southern battlegrounds are creating a tricky strategic calculus for Mr. Biden’s campaign as it grinds into higher gear and decides where to direct its money, advertising and foot soldiers on the political map. The subtle, early tension is leading to no small amount of jealousy among Democratic allies of Mr. Biden in each state as they jockey for cash and attention.

“I would certainly advocate for North Carolina over Georgia right now with the Biden campaign,” Roy Cooper, the Tar Heel State’s governor, said in a recent interview, pointing out that Mr. Biden’s defeat there by just a percentage point in 2020 was his closest in the nation. “Obviously, I’m a little biased. They’re going to have to make those decisions. I think Georgia is still an extremely important state to the president and can help put him over the top.”

North Carolina looks like a more appealing target this year, even though a Democratic presidential candidate has not won the state since 2008. But Republicans recently nominated a candidate for governor with a well-documented history of antisemitic comments, staunch opposition to abortion and anti-L.G.B.T.Q. views, and Democrats hope he will drag down the Republican ticket to Mr. Biden’s advantage.

Georgia now appears a little less enticing, despite a narrow Biden victory there in 2020 that gave Democrats new ambitions of winning in the South. That year, Mr. Biden ran alongside two Democratic candidates for Senate with control of the chamber at stake, prompting both die-hard Democrats and infrequent voters to surge to the polls. This year, there is no marquee down-ballot race to help Mr. Biden, and liberal organizers in the state have warned of money problems and lagging grass-roots energy.

Mark Robinson, left, won North Carolina’s Republican primary election for governor last week. Mr. Robinson has quoted Hitler on Facebook, engaged in Holocaust denial and referred to “transgenderism” and “homosexuality” as “filth.”Credit…Veasey Conway for The New York Times

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