Georgia – The Cliffhanger State

With 16 electoral college votes, Georgia remains an important state during each election year, although in 2016 – and the three presidential elections prior – Georgia went Republican. The last presidential election was the highest voter turnout that Georgia has ever had, at over 4 million votes out of the 5.5 million registered to vote, making it a 76 percent turnout rate. As a whole, it seems as though the state of Georgia is fired up to get out and use its voting privilege.

What makes Georgia especially important is because looking at the numbers, the margin between the amount of votes Donald Trump got in 2016 to the amount of votes Hillary Clinton received is not as large as some may think for what in many ways is a typical southern state. Over 45 percent of votes that went to Clinton, almost all stemmed from the few urban areas in the state. The truth is that more people are voting and it is beginning to show. In the 2018 primaries, about 3 times as many voters turned out compared to the 2016 primary, an unprecedented increment over a very short period of time.

Throughout the past 28 years, the state of Georgia has been a primarily republican red state and prior to those years, the three times that the state turned blue was because a known southern Democrat was on the ballot. Yet in a country-wide turn of events for the United States, Georgia is slowly becoming increasingly Democratic each election year – and with its 16 electoral votes, it has the potential to drastically change the outcome of the election.

The last 3 presidential elections, Georgia has shifted to the left each year. In 2016, it moved 4.5 points to the left, from 11.7 points to 7.2 points. The 2018 midterm elections were a clear sign of another large shift when the House Democrats won a combined 48% of votes, the most of any midterm election in the state since 1990.

Fundamentally the United States is in the midst of a major political change which – however GOP fares on Nov 3rds, is a seismic, long-term structural problem for Republicans going forward as ageing, traditionally conservative white voters pass on and are replaced in numbers by – in particular – young Latinos who tend to gravitate o the softer pro-immigrant tones of the Democrats. Since the 60’s people of color, especially African Americans and Latinos have voted majority democrat.

Georgia state-wide has a population of almost 11 million people. Atlanta – Georgia’s most populated city at 506,811 people – is also majority African American, a demographic that votes overwhelmingly Blue at election time. About 52% of all of Atlanta identifies as African American, easily making it the second black populated metropolitan area in the country. Albany, Savannah, and Augusta are all cities in Georgia that have a higher black population compared to all other races, with Albany having a population of 70 percent of African Americans.

These populations are only growing and expanding each year all around Georgia. In fact, the percentage of black Americans in Atlanta has dropped from about 61 percent in 2000 to 54 percent in 2010 as more African Americans move into the suburban areas throughout Georgia.

The growing black population paired with the statistics of African Americans voting primarily for Democratic candidates and increasingly high turnout among this group has thrown Georgia into political bellwether territory so that it is now seen as a swing state. For now, it may be too early for such a right leaning state to fully switch to a blue state, but in what is a clear sign of the changing political climate in the US, these shifts are appearing in various southern states, some more surprising than others. In fact, states such as Texas are seeing a shift as well as more Latinos and African Americans move into large cities such as Houston and Austin and vote blue.

These small shifts throughout the past few years are a signal for a larger shift coming down the road in the future. Maybe that kink in the round comes now, maybe a little further down the line, but whatever the fundamentals of it, Georgia’s status as a state-to-fight-for has now changed for at least the next generation. Little doubt then that on Nov 3rd, all eyes will be on Georgia.

For Times Media Mexico
Sydney Fowlkes in Philadelphia

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