How Georgia turned Democratic just in time for the election

How+Georgia+turned+Democratic+just+in+time+for+the+election

Joelle Dlugozima, Staff Writer; Editor

Since around 1972, Georgia has been an off and on swing state experiencing a fair share of, well, swings, all races ending with close margins. Just recently, we ended our 7 election streak of siding red by voting in favor of 2020’s Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden. However, with the heightened tensions between parties and overall political split in America, it’s important to ask how Democrats were able to finally flip the tables, especially for such a charged general election. 

 

In previous blue-turned elections, the candidates had to have certain circumstances for winning Georgia’s support besides just harboring traditionally left views. Jimmy Carter, our 39th president, won over Georgia in both of the presidential elections he participated in thanks to his Georgian background. Furthermore, Bill Clinton was able to secure victory in the peach state with the help of third party candidate Ross Perot, who earned 13% of the vote from both of the major party candidates.

 

However, one Democrat in particular stands out for getting eligible voters to the polls. Stacey Abrams, most notably the first black woman to ever be a gubernatorial nominee -a title earned in the 2018 Georgia governor race- and creator of Fair Fight, led the charge by registering more than 800,000 new voters in Georgia in time for the presidential election. Motivated by her slim loss to Governor Kemp in 2018, Abrams knew Georgia’s democratic base just needed one final push.

 

Her efforts are even more impressive when you put them in the context of the serious voter suppression Georgia has become accustomed to. One of the 18 states with the strictest photo ID requirements, Georgia has continuously made headlines for restricting voters, specifically minority groups, from exercising their right to vote. Whether it’s producing disheartening long lines or purging almost 100,000 voters for inactivity, the vote blocking experienced has been blamed by many political entities for costing them elections.

 

The push for absentee ballots and early voting by Democrats was also huge in shaking the red from Georgia. The alternative voting options provided voters a way to skip the treacherous lines mentioned above, as well as kept them socially distanced in a time with a pandemic. 

 

Therefore, Fair Fight and Stacey Abrams were huge factors in turning Georgia blue for this election. But, the factors in helping the Democrats’ victory in Georgia might not stop there.

 

States everywhere experienced record-breaking turnout for polls, proving this presidential election was highly anticipated. Georgia was able to overturn the 62.5 percent participation record set by former president Barack Obama’s election in 2008, showing out with a 67.6 percent rate for this year’s election. Given these numbers, it’s possible the past four years as well as the candidates running have encouraged the entire nation to have more of their voices heard, Georgians included. 

 

Furthermore, Georgia’s urban population practically carried the state to turning blue. Historically blue counties, like Fulton County and Gwinnett County, were joined by developing Democratic counties, like Cobb County, in flipping Georgia blue. As expected, more rural counties, like Pike County and Coweta County sided with incumbent president Donald Trump. However, with the continuing urban developments spreading from Atlanta, the heart of Georgia, to the surrounding suburbs and rural communities, it’ll be interesting to see the possible shift in political support for the state overall.

 

Finally, it all comes down to demographics. It’s no secret Georgia has started to diversify with the margin between white and nonwhite majority decreasing. Due to many groups of people moving to Atlanta for work or attending our colleges from out of state, there’s been a shift in age and race populations. Thanks to the young black vote, Biden was able to gain the 16 electoral votes that helped him cross the threshold for presidency.

 

All in all, while it may have happened faster than experts predicted, Georgia’s Democratic wave wasn’t out of the blue (ha). For almost the past 20 years, our state has urbanized and diversified, especially within our cities, to the point we could rival some of the northern states for democratic support. Giving our 16 electoral votes for Biden was only the start of our political shift, and it’s all up to the results in January’s senatorial runoff to see if Democrats can keep the ball rolling.