Georgia certifies their results: How they turned blue in the election
The United States’ presidential election can be very confusing. There’s the popular vote on election night, and then those votes inform delegates to vote for a candidate in an electoral college system. It can be very convoluted but somehow works every year, sort of. However, 2020 is no ordinary year and the coronavirus pandemic complicated things even further.
In one of the most highly contested, politicized, and controversial elections in U.S. history, the 2020 election came down to the wire as it took multiple days before a winner was called. One of the most critical states, Georgia, was so close to call, it triggered a recount.
After two weeks, the votes have finally been recounted, and the added effort to verify the count confirmed what pundits thought when they first called the election on Nov. 7, Georgia went to Joe Biden. Georgia hadn’t voted for a democratic candidate since 1992 when Bill Clinton was the nominee. Here’s how Georgia demographics worked to turn the Republican stronghold blue after nearly thirty years.
Biden made huge strides in the suburbs around Atlanta. In some precincts, he outpaced Hillary Clinton’s 2016 numbers by over ten percentage points. Atlanta was a key area for Democrats in 2020, which makes sense as Georgia’s most populated city with 523,000 people. The key demographics Biden did well in: high income, college-educated, and voters sixty-five & older.
According to World Population Review, about half of Atlanta’s residents have at least a bachelor’s degree, and the most important section of Atlanta was the northern suburbs. According to Data USA, in 2018, the area’s average household income is well over $100,o00 way north of the city’s $56,000 household income.
Even though the median age in Atlanta is 33, residents were only 53% likely to vote Democrat, according to exit polls. Democrats were hoping to ride a blue wave led by young voters but ultimately couldn’t win the state without older voters’ help. It’s why Democrats narrowly won the presidential election and why the state’s two senate seats wound up in a runoff.
Black voter turnout
Georgia is one of a handful of states that asks for voters’ race during registration. According to The New York Times, Black voters make up 30% of the electorate in Georgia, reflecting its diversity. However, on election night, they only made up 27% of the vote, down almost a percentage point from 2016.
Georgia wasn’t the only state reporting low turnouts from the Black community. North Carolina, another state that asks for race during registration, also saw a decline from Black voters. The Black vote was the second part of the Democrats’ equation for turning Georgia blue.
The only problem is with worse turnout than 2016 — it was hard for Democrats to see the success they were hoping for. Georgia’s Black voter turnout was the lowest since 2006 when Barack Obama was running for President, and Joe Biden was on the ticket. The low Black turnout also means Democrats will still need to rely on flipping moderate conservatives to win the state in the future.
More work to be done in Georgia
2020 was supposed to be Democrats’ year to ride a progressive blue wave spurred by young & Black voters. While Black voters were 88% likely to vote for Democrats in 2020, only about 55% of voters aged 18-44 voted Democrat. According to Georgia’s exit polls, the problem is Black voter turnout continued to drop, and the young vote is still split.
While Democrats made strides in key demographics like older populations, they still didn’t win them over, according to exit polls. According to The New York Times, Democrats gained points with older populations, but voters sixty-five older were 56% more likely to vote Republican according to the exit polls.
Crucially for them, Democrats won over independents. According to exit polls, independents were 53% more likely to vote for Joe Biden & democrats. Democrats need to continue to win over independents. Democrats still need to win over traditionally conservative & independent Georgia voters until the Black turnout trends upward.