While Georgia has been a reliably red state since 1996, its 16 electoral votes make it a prize the Democrats would dearly love to turn blue. In terms of how residents of the state have voted in federal elections, though, it is hard to discern a Republican to Democrat trend. Georgians have not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992, they have not elected a Democratic governor since 1998, and they haven’t sent a Democrat to the Senate since 2000. Republicans also command majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.
From 2002, the state had 13 congressional districts; either five or six of those were represented by Republicans over the period of a decade. Georgia gained a 14th district in 2012 and had six Democratic representatives. Currently, the state has four Democratic and nine Republican seats in the U.S. House, with one vacancy.
In 2016, President Donald Trump carried the state by a margin of almost six percentage points. Whether he or his Democrat challenger will carry Georgia in November is not an easy prediction, if one believes the polls. As of Sept. 22, the Real Clear Politics average of polls gives Trump a one-point lead over Joe Biden, and the latter’s campaign is targeting the state with a major ad buy.
One of Georgia’s two Republican senators, David Perdue, is up for re-election in November, in line with the regular congressional schedule. However, Sen. Kelly Loeffler was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to fill the Senate seat vacated by the retiring Johnny Isakson in 2019. That means Loeffler will also be fighting for her seat in a special election.
Perdue’s challenger is Democrat Jon Ossoff, who became famous for losing the most expensive congressional race in history in a 2017 special election. Perdue currently leads Ossoff in almost every poll by a margin of between two and seven points.
Loeffler faces a far less straightforward race. In what is generally known as a “jungle primary,” multiple candidates from the same party will challenge the appointed incumbent. In all, 21 candidates qualified to contest Loeffler’s seat, including five other Republicans, eight Democrats, and five Independents, along with one Libertarian and one Green Party candidate.
Among the challengers are Representative Doug Collins (R-GA), who currently represents the state’s 9th district, and former Senator Joe Lieberman’s son, Matt, a Democrat.
Georgia’s 5th congressional district, formerly represented by John Lewis (D), will be contested in a Sept. 29 special election – and is a safe Democrat seat. The 6th and 7th districts, currently represented by Democrat Lucy McBath and Republican Rob Woodall, respectively, are the only Georgia districts considered less than safe for the party now controlling them.
If Georgia were to turn blue, future Republican presidential candidates would find that winning the Electoral College becomes a lot more challenging. It is why Democrats have been working hard, for several years, to swing the state in their favor – along with Texas and North Carolina. The trends mentioned earlier, though, do not indicate a significant red-to-blue switch among the state’s electorate. Like many other states, Georgia is mostly red or deep red everywhere outside the larger metropolitan areas.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.