Why 1,000,000 new voters in Georgia are a really big deal: analysis

Why 1,000,000 new voters in Georgia are a really big deal: analysis
image via Screengrab.

Georgia was close in 2016, with Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton just 50-45, despite zero attention or focus on the state. It was a major signal to the political world that Georgia had arrived on the battleground stage. And while it took a while for the political punditry and observers to give Georgia the top billing it deserves (Daily Kos was relatively lonely at the start of the cycle, calling the state a battleground), there is no doubt in anyone's mind that Georgia is perhaps the most closely divided state in the country.

From an Electoral College standpoint, Democrat Joe Biden will win the presidency long before Georgia's 16 electoral votes are added to someone's tally. But Georgia is critically important for several reasons:

  • Georgia is the fourth largest (by population) red state in the country. Interestingly, every single one of them is competitive: Texas (38), Florida (29), Ohio (18), Georgia (16), and North Carolina (15). It is difficult for Republicans to win the White House if they don't have a solid base to depend on, the way Democrats have California (55), New York (29), and Illinois (20) to anchor their map.
  • The Senate is easily biased toward white rural Republican states. Any state that can be pulled from the "safe Republican" column to "competitive" status helps go a little way toward alleviating the rank inequities of that chamber. And it's incredibly fortuitous that Georgia has two Senate seats in play this year.
  • The people of Georgia deserve better, plain and simple.

So a competitive Georgia isn't exactly the biggest surprise of the cycle, but going from minus-5 to tied didn't happen by accident. Driving that transformation: there are now 7.6 million registered voters in the state, a staggering 1 million more than in 2016—a nearly 14% increase. Remember—Clinton lost by 5%. That was a a 211,141 difference.

In 2018, Democrat Stacey Abrams lost the governor's race by a little less than 55,000 votes. And here we are, 1 million newly registered voters later since 2016, with the polls neck and neck. And the numbers on those registered voters are simply brutal.

  • The number of voters under the age of 35 years old is up 22%—making up half of the new voters. According to a late-September Georgia poll by Civiqs, Biden is winning 18-34-year-old voters by a 53-40 margin. Of course, these are the lowest performing voters, but more on that in a bit.
  • Of that million new voters, 200,000 were registered in the last three months alone. That's …. staggeringly mind-blowing!
  • Of those who gave their race, 53% of new voters are white, 30% are Black, and 4% are Latino. According to exit polls, 60% of Georgia voters were white in 2016. The state's electorate is getting browner, which is terrible news for the GOP.

According to the latest up-to-date numbers from the U.S. Elections Project, 2,258,750 Georgians have already voted since early voting began on October 10, or 32% of the 2016 total. Early voting will continue until Friday, October 30, so we still have another eight days. Not only does this bank Democratic votes ahead of time, lessening the load on the Democratic GOTV machine, but it will also guarantee shorter lines on Election Day proper. The state expects more than 5 million to vote, dramatically higher than 2016's 4.1 million.

This one will be close, no doubt about it. The presidential and both Senate races (and several competitive House races down ballot) will all be real dogfights. But Georgia's demographic trends are moving decisively in our direction. Georgia may very well follow the most recent example of Colorado—once a conservative stronghold, then a battleground, and now a solid, safe blue state.

But first things first, 2020. GOTV and leave nothing on the road.

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