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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

How Georgia May Elect a Democratic Senator and Govenor

Eric Brown’s “Blue Georgia: Can Jimmy Carter’s Grandson Turn Georgia Into A 2016 Swing State?” at International Business Times discusses prospects for Michelle Nunn’s Senate campaign and Jason Carter’s bid to win the GA governorship. An excerpt:

…Though, all of Georgia’s U.S. senators and statewide officials, and most of its House delegation, are Republicans, so can Carter and Nunn turn the tide? According to Emory University professor Dr. Alan Abramowitz, who specializes in party realignment in the U.S., Georgia’s demographics are changing enough that if Carter and Nunn can’t do it this year, someone else might soon.
“Georgia is going to be the next purple state. It’s trending the same way Virginia was a few years ago, though it’s not as far along,” Abramowitz said.

Brown adds, “From 2000 to 2010, Georgia’s non-white population increased from 37 percent to 45 percent, putting it on track to becoming a majority-minority state…Given the GOP’s continuing failures at reaching out to minority groups, and rising black voter turnout, the era of conservative domination in Georgia is likely on its way out.”
However, Brown, sees challenges facing Dems in GA before it can be rated as purple as Virginia, “including “a significantly stronger evangelical Protestant base, giving conservative white voters a stronger voice than in many other states.” Further,

One of the leading Republicans in the Senate race, Rep. Paul Broun of Athens, is well known for his firm evangelical beliefs. But the increasingly powerful voices of young voters and minorities in Georgia have the power to turn the state into a battleground for coming elections…Carter and Nunn have better chances than any Democrat in the 21st century, but it will still take work to pull off a win.
“For the Democrats to win either election, they need help from the Republicans,” Abramowitz explained. “What I mean is, in the Senate race, Republicans would need to elect someone a little too extreme for most people. If you ask most Democrats who they’d like to run against, they’ll pick Paul Broun. Not just because he’s very conservative, but because he has a knack for saying unusual things.”
.. In 2011, for instance, Broun appeared at a church-sponsored event and claimed that the theories of evolution and the Big Bang were “lies straight from the pit of hell.”…Rhetoric like that might sit well with Broun’s largely rural district, but he’ll have a harder time making a similar case to cosmopolitan Atlanta residents…
Meanwhile, Carter’s greatest chance at a win doesn’t just come from his own experience and endorsements from other politicians, but from weaknesses on his opponent’s part. Since 2010, [GA Gov.] Deal has been the subject of federal probes looking into possibly criminal misuse of his campaign funds during the 2010 gubernatorial election. If anything comes of the probe in the coming months, it could spell disaster for Deal and good news for Carter.
Even if Carter tries and fails against Deal this year, he’ll have positioned himself into a good place for 2018. As a Democrat who gave a good fight to an incumbent Republican, he’ll be able to make a strong case for his nomination once again, and since Georgia only allows two terms per governor, he won’t have to face another incumbent…

“And by then,” concludes Brown, “Carter will have benefited even more from Georgia’s shifting demographics.” Put that together with the fact that African American voters had a higher turnout rate than white voters in GA’s 2010 midterms, and the fact that Obama polled almost 47 percent of GA voters in 2012, and it looks like Dems might make a smart bet on a ‘two-fer’ by investing more substantial resources in turning out their base in GA this year.

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