I live in Georgia, an obnoxiously humid Bible Belt state with fantastic college football and mouth-watering cuisine. Our state symbol is a peach and Forrest Gump’s charming southern drawl is courtesy of one of our oldest towns. Overall, it’s a pretty pleasant place with a bustling cosmopolitan capital.
A capital that has helped to transform a once comfortably republican majority state into a swing state in charge of deciding the fate of the US Senate in the 2022 midterm elections.
Two decades ago, both of Georgia’s senators were Republicans. Five decades ago, you could still find some residual Southern segregationalists hanging up their Confederate flags in the more rural counties. Today, Georgia comes to swing in one of the most tumultuous political battles yet.
In 2020, Joe Biden secured a lead in Georgia, making it the first year since 1992 that a Democrat won the state. That moment allowed Georgia to reemerge as a political battleground and one that would prove to be of utmost importance.
The current polarization in Georgia mirrors that of the rest of the nation. Majority-White rural areas overwhelmingly prefer republican candidates, while democratic candidates benefit from enormous support in Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs, where a substantial share of voters are Black.
Some attribute Georgia’s blue shift to the transformational vision of party leaders like Stacey Abrams and the groundwork they laid in the lead-up to the election. Others cite the recent Roe v Wade overturning and other recent governmental actions as a catalyst for young voter turnout.
Georgia, however increasingly purple, is not reliably Democratic. Gov. Kemp defeated Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams in a highly anticipated race Tuesday night. As for the senate race, a runoff is expected in December for Raphael Warnock (D) and Herschel Walker (R) as neither candidate was able to break the 50% voter threshold.
The results of the runoff have the potential to determine which party will assume the Senate majority. This will mark the second straight election cycle in the historically conservative bastion that the Senate has been up for grabs.
So, while it’s still unclear whether or not Georgia will defy expectations and secure a majority blue senate, we know one thing for sure. The share of southern states where Republican victory is guaranteed is shrinking.
Long live the purple peach.
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