Gale Ewing filed this story for Tuesday’s edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. | AP Photo Georgia became a swing state for the first time in decades
The economy may have created the Bush after Republicans won back the House in 2010, but it has created a new twist for Georgia’s electoral politics: the swing state.
Voters went to the polls Tuesday for the first time in decades to cast ballots for Georgia lawmakers. The Republican coalition, led by Gov. Nathan Deal, enjoys some big advantages. Overall, Democrats were expected to vote at a razor-thin 48 percent of the vote, slightly more than they did in 2010.Story Continued Below
Things seem to be moving decidedly the other way. Republicans have stolen jobs away from Democratic strongholds, and Democrats are netting the wealthiest working-class communities of the state, instead of concentrating their strength in more “blue,” Rust Belt areas.
“That’s a net win for Democrats,” said James Jones, chairman of the University of Georgia’s Vogel Institute for the Study of Politics and Governance.
But in a state like Georgia, where an electoral vote matters more to the White House than states like West Virginia or Ohio, the swings are particularly big.
On Tuesday, all three of the state’s gubernatorial candidates — Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Attorney General Brian Kemp — compete to see who will come through for the working-class farmers and black small business owners in the northwest metro areas of Atlanta and the Georgia Arts and Cultural Center in Augusta. The third Republican contender — former state Sen. Stacey Abrams — has a tough path to victory, as the state’s congressional delegation favors Democrats over Republicans and she currently trails Kemp by at least 20 points in some recent polls.
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Abrams, a former Atlanta mayor, was a major theme of her campaigns, with her slogan, “Working for families,” targeted at area black voters, and has been the Democratic alternative to Kemp, who often ends up on television debates that didn’t make for much longer views.
“It’s really going to be an issue in November,” said Guy Garvey, the Georgia-based director of the Jacobs Institute for the Study of Politics and Governance.
Garvey said voters in metro Atlanta and the greater Georgia economy have become particularly important for either party, giving Democrats like Kemp an edge. More important, Democrats won twice as many suburban counties in the last midterm and lost lots of more Democratic-leaning, rural counties.
“We saw very little of the rural county and metro counties were trending towards Democrats and they now all go to Republicans,” Garvey said.
Here’s a look at some key state races in the region.