In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 results.
The Georgia Senate races will determine control of the Senate.
One thing helping line voters up is the decision of the candidates in both races to run as tickets, with joint appearances and advertisements. J. Miles Coleman of the University of Virginia Center for Politics said the joint effort has helped Warnock wrap up Democratic voters.
“He and Ossoff have done a better job of running as a ticket,” Coleman said. “I think overall that’s going to benefit Warnock and help him consolidate some of his support.”
With the candidates running as tickets, it’s unlikely the parties will split the seats.
The number of Black registered voters in Georgia increased by about 130,000 between Oct. 11, 2016, and Oct. 5, 2020, the largest increase among all major racial and ethnic groups, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Georgia Secretary of State’s Office data. Meanwhile, early reports suggest that turnout in November 2020 among Black registered voters increased compared with 2016, but not as much as other groups.
The increase of 520,000 in new registered voters in Georgia since 2016 came from a variety of sources, as no single racial or ethnic group accounted for more than 25% of the newly registered. Even so, some groups of registered voters saw larger increases than others, shifting the overall racial and ethnic composition of registered voters.
The suburbs of Cobb County, Ga., boomed during white flight on the promise of isolation from Atlanta. Residents there dating to the 1960s did not want Atlanta problems, or Atlanta transit, or Atlanta people. As a local commissioner once infamously put it, he would stock piranha in the Chattahoochee River that separates Cobb from Atlanta if it were necessary to keep the city out.
The county became a model of the conservative, suburban South, opposed to the kind of federal meddling that integrates schools, or the kind of taxes that fund big infrastructure. And then, this year, after timidly embracing Hillary Clinton in 2016 (she won the area by just two points), Cobb County voted for Joe Biden by 14 percentage points. And Democrats swept the major countywide races.
“It’s been this evolution of Cobb from a white-flight suburb to, now, I went to a Ramadan meal in a gated community in Cobb County that was multiracial,” said Andrea Young, the executive director of the Georgia A.C.L.U., and the daughter of the former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young. “This is the story,” she said, “of Atlanta spilling out into the metro area.”
Around the region, suburban communities that once defined themselves in opposition to Atlanta have increasingly come to resemble it: in demographics, in urban conveniences and challenges, and, finally, in politics. Rather than symbolizing a bulwark against Black political power, these places have become part of a coalition led by Black voters that is large enough to tip statewide races — and that could hand control of the Senate to Democrats next month.\
But while the change in the state’s politics bloomed faster than many expected, its roots are deep, growing out of a generation-long trend of migration back to the South — and to the Atlanta metropolitan region in particular — by hundreds of thousands of Black families.
That reflects a crucial pattern in American politics, said Keneshia Grant, a political scientist at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
“Migration has been especially important to the story of Black participation in American politics,” said Grant, author of a book, “The Great Migration and the Democratic Party,” that traces the significant expansion of Black political influence that came about as a result of the move to Northern cities from the end of World War I through the 1960s.
As that pattern of northward migration began to reverse, Atlanta emerged in the 1990s as the largest destination for Black migration in the country, a trend that accelerated through the early 2000s.
“In the same way that the Great Migration is a long story, this return migration is also a long story,” Grant said. “When you want to understand what’s happening in Georgia in 2020, you have to look at it as the result of something much longer.”
Many factors have gone into the shift of Georgia’s politics, including the intensive voter registration and mobilization campaigns led by Stacey Abrams, the party’s 2018 candidate for governor who is widely expected to run again in 2022. Those campaigns, however, could succeed only because of the underlying changes in the state’s population.