Republicans have dominated the Georgian presidential election for a generation, but Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 White House bid made this southern GOP stronghold competitive for the first time in nearly 30 years.
While Republican Donald Trump slipped to victory in Georgia four years ago, support for Biden grew rapidly in the weeks leading up to election day. Real Clear Politics’ poll average shows candidates are statistically bound by state, and a Quinnipiac University poll of Georgia voters conducted in late September ahead of the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis found Biden Trump around three percentage points at the top is the poll’s error rate. In the poll, 50 percent of voters said they supported Biden, and 47 percent said they would vote for Trump.
That should set off alarm bells in the Trump campaign that brought Georgia by a safe five percentage points against Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“I think Trump should be wary of what might happen in Georgia,” said Trey Hood, director of the University of Georgia Survey Research Center, who conducted a poll on the Atlanta Journal’s constitution in late September that showed the race in dead heat has been.
Georgia State representative Vernon Jones poses for a picture before joining supporters for U.S. President Donald Trump driving in a trailer in Dunwoody, Georgia on September 5, 2020. [File: Dustin Chambers/Reuters]A Biden win in Georgia would make Trump’s already narrow path to the 270 electoral college votes necessary for victory difficult, and deter the president from the votes former Republicans could get without investing significant campaign resources. Georgia is part of the deep South America, which has voted Republicans in recent years. But if the south changes, Republican influence in the region could loosen.
Biden’s rise in the state is likely due to demographic change, particularly in Atlanta – Georgia’s largest city – which has seen a population boom in recent years. The percentage of the state’s older white population has steadily declined and has been replaced by a younger population with fewer white residents who are increasingly voting democratically. Many of these new voters are transplants from other states who have moved to Atlanta in recent years.
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, right, goes to a table meeting with a gathering of southern black mayors [File: John Amis/AP Photo]”What is essentially happening here is Republicans die and democratically elect their grandchildren,” said Charles S. Bullock, professor of political science at the University of Georgia. “Wherever you look, you can see the Democrats recover. They haven’t reached majority status yet, but the numbers are moving in that direction. “
The toughest battle will take place in cities around the metropolitan Atlanta area, a vast region spanning nearly 22,000 square kilometers and home to more than 6 million people. The area has more than earned its nickname: “The Capital of the South”.
“Atlanta dominates other urban areas. It’s just huge. The real battle is taking place in the Atlanta suburbs ring, ”Hood said. “It’s a turnout. There are very few people left who can convince. It is the one who can make his armed forces vote. “
Georgia’s new battlefield status has drawn both campaigns – and their allies – to action.
Prior to his COVID-19 diagnosis, Trump visited Georgia several times to start a campaign, as did his run mate Mike Pence. The campaign paid to air television commercials in the state in September. They have had help from super PACs like America First Action, a pro-Trump group that plans to spend $ 2.8 million starting October on a television ad attacking Biden as “weak”.
Focus on black voters
Biden launched a multi-million dollar advertising campaign in September, one of the main aims of which was to increase the turnout of black voters. The ad advertises his runner-up, Kamala Harris, whose father was a black immigrant from Jamaica.
Both campaigns have also made ambitious efforts to woo Georgia’s black voters, who make up more than 30 percent of the state’s population.
In 2019, Trump launched a “Black Voices for Trump” initiative with a speech in Atlanta. In September, he returned to Atlanta to announce a so-called “platinum plan” for black Americans, which includes proposals to support black-owned companies, label the Ku Klux Klan as a terrorist organization, and recognize June 19th Day that celebrates when the last black slaves found out about their emancipation – as a national holiday. At the Republican National Convention in August, two black politicians from Georgia were present to stand up for the president.
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Atlanta, Georgia on September 25, 2020 [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]Despite these efforts, recent polls suggest that Biden will dominate among black voters.
“I don’t see any moves in terms of African American voters toward Trump,” Hood said.
Biden has relied on black surrogates like Stacey Abrams, the Georgia House minority leader, who narrowly lost her bid for governor in 2018. Their advocacy group, Fair Fight Georgia, has registered hundreds of thousands of voters. A large majority of black voters are likely to endorse Biden in 2020, but his success will depend on their turnout, which Clinton failed to produce four years earlier. The number of blacks who voted in 2016 was far fewer than in 2012, when Barack Obama won re-election.
“In Georgia and the deep south in general, black voters are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party coalition,” said J. Miles Coleman, electoral analyst with the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “If the Democrats want the black vote, getting a big vote out of Atlanta is good, but the Democrats have to look out for other areas of the state as well. If Biden can get the kind of black turnout in the rural areas that Obama could get, it would help in a very close race. “
Democrats have been encouraged by the growing number of supporters in the recent non-presidential election, which may point to a blue future for this long red state. In 2018, the Democrats moved several seats in the State House and Senate that had long been occupied by Republicans. During Abrams’ bid for governor in 2018, she got within 55,000 votes to Georgia, closer than any Democrat in years. And this year Georgia has two seats in the Senate up for re-election – the only state to do so this election cycle – which could further increase the turnout at the ballot box.
“If Biden Georgia wins – or if he’s within a few points – he’ll likely have 270+ votes,” said Coleman. “For Biden, Georgia winning would almost be the icing on the cake.”