Georgia, blue or red? What history and data suggest

By Lee Cleveland, Polls and Trends - January 8, 2021

As projected, the Georgia Senate runoff races are were close; but still not tight enough for the losing candidates to receive a complimentary recount.

As of 10:27PM ET Thursday, January 8, the declared winners, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, lead their Republican rivals by 81,000 and 43,000 votes, respectively.

… And votes are still being counted.

So, what happened to Georgia?

First, Democratic nominee and President-elect Joe Biden defeats Republican incumbent President Donald Trump by 11,000 votes there in November and then Democrats flip both U.S. Senate seats in the Peach State to gain control of the country’s most powerful legislative chamber.

For decades, Georgia was a haven for Republicans. Has something changed?

Is Georgia blue or red?

 The answer is complex yet simple. And arguments can be made both ways.

Georgia is still red
One could contend Democrats’ recent success in Georgia doesn’t necessarily make the state blue any more than Trump’s winning Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in 2016 made those states red.

Each of those states, won by Trump in 2016, subsequently elected or re-elected Democratic governors and reverted to normalcy by being carried by Biden in 2020.

Fact: Trump’s wins in those states had more to do with the unpopularity of his opponent than a shift in ideology.

In Georgia, we could be seeing the same thing.

Democrats’ recent wins there might be more of a referendum on Donald Trump and his enablers than an ideological shift.

Keep in mind, in the period between the November election and senate runoffs in January, Trump continued to support zany conspiracy theories, delayed signing the COVID relief bill and repeatedly protested the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election result despite a universal lack of evidence of any fraud or wrongdoing.

Thanks to Trump, a lot of right leaners in Georgia might have voted blue or simply didn’t participate in the voting process.

What will happen when Trump and his lackeys are out of the picture?

No, Georgia is bluer than the Atlanta sky in daytime
Democrats’ dual Senate wins in one of the most critical non-presidential elections in the last 30 years tell us Biden’s upset over Trump was no fluke.

Biden won there by his chinny chin-chin weeks ago, but Warnock and Ossoff are leaving no doubt in their races.

My home state of Virginia was solidly red until 2008. Since then, we have been heavily blue thanks in part to the growth in the northern part of the state, which is very populous, very suburban and very educated.

Virginia’s shift from red to blue was rapid and emphatic. President Obama carried the state twice, Hillary defeated Trump here and Biden won the commonwealth by double digits in 2020. Also, our two most recent governors are Democrats, and we haven’t elected a Republican U.S. Senator since 2002 (John Warner).

Neither Trump nor Vice President Pence wasted their time campaigning here in 2020. And that should tell you all you need to know about Virginia’s status as a swing state.

Is the Peach State Virginia Number 2?

Virginia was never truly purple. We went from red straight to blue.

Perhaps we’re see something similar in Georgia. Cobb County, not long ago a Republican stronghold, now leans left. And we’re seeing growth in the Atlanta suburbs as a whole as young, college-educated people are relocating there in droves.

Second, looking back, Georgia’s 2018 Gubernatorial Race could have been an indication of things to come. Republican Brian Kemp was taken the distance thanks to a dynamic challenge from Democratic foe Stacey Abrams; It was the closest governor’s race in that state since 1966.

Of the approximate 3.9 million votes cast, Kemp bested Abrams by 1.4 percentage points, 50.2 to 48.8. But the defeat for Democrats was a win of sorts for them because it confirmed Republicans were losing their dominance in the Peach State. Moreover, Republicans allegedly needed extra help to win as it’s no secret the Georgia state government made voting an obstacle in left-leaning (mostly minority) areas.

Perhaps we’ve seen what happens in Georgia when everyone has a fair and equal opportunity to cast their vote?

Final observations

If North Carolina is a right-leaning purple state, Georgia is a blue-leaning purple state.

Democrats are finally realizing they can control so much more of their electoral fate there by simply ‘getting out the vote’ among minorities, especially Blacks.

Fact: Blacks are heavily Democratic and comprise 32 percent of the state. As long as they vote in high numbers, Democratic candidates will have a strong chance to win in Georgia, regardless of whether the state is ultimately red, blue or purple in the coming years. The challenge for Democrats is getting Blacks motivated enough to turn out in very high numbers every 2 years.

Still… Advantage Democrats.

Second, the continued growth of the Atlanta suburbs certainly favors Democrats – Especially if there’s a continued influx of people with a college degree or higher.

Lastly, any candidate affiliated with Donald Trump will face a mighty hurdle should they attempt to win a statewide election in Georgia. We’ve already gone that route several times.

Georgia isn’t red anymore. The ultimate question is whether its purple or blue.

In 2022 and 2024, Republicans, all things being routine, should still have a small advantage; BUT, if Democrats want to win bad enough there’s nothing stopping them.

Advantage Democrats.

But, they must bring their A-game in getting out the vote with each and every election to counter the red dominance that exists in most of the state. And that’s not as easy as it may seem.

Democrats must work harder to win in Georgia than Republicans but ultimately control their own destiny.

In 2022 and 2024, how bad will Dems want it?


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