Demographics, Organizing Solidified Georgia’s Blue Shift
Following President-elect Joe Biden’s win of Georgia’s Electoral College votes in November 2020, the voters of Georgia have decided to send U.S. Sen.-elect Rev. Raphael Warnock to the U.S. Senate and, with results still being counted in a second Run-off, have likely apparently decided to send Jon Ossoff to the U.S. Senate.
The shift has been caused by shifting demographics in Georgia, along with years of organizing by progressive organizations, especially those focused on voter rights.
“Ha! Told ya!” Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project, told Atlanta Progressive News, when asked for her immediate reaction to last night’s, Jan. 05, 2021 Run-off Election Results
“I told you that Georgia was America’s newest battleground state; that Black, Brown, and gold voters were key,” Ufot said.
“That investing in independent political organizations was a value-add,” Ufot said.
“That bold, progressive, accountable progressive politics are winning politics in the Deep South,” she said.
“I think the Democratic shift that we’re experiencing in Georgia, that we’re experiencing in the country is the fire, and organizing is the accelerant,” she said.
“Accountable, sophisticated, joyous, issue-based organizing, cultural organizing, is allowing us to leverage these demographic shifts to bring about the changes that Georgia families want to see,” Ufot said.
“It’s the yuppies that are coming from California. It’s Asian voters who have come here who are progressive,” Prof. Adrienne Jones, Associate Professor of Political Science at Morehouse College, told APN.
“It’s like a coalition of various multicultural voters,” Prof. Jones said.
“We’ve had demographic change of course. We’ve had significant ground game motivation of new and Black voters,” Prof. Jones said.
“People talk about (former House Minority Leader) Stacey Abrams and a broad swath of other organizations. Stacey has been working since 2018. And these other folks have been trying to convey to the Democratic Party that there was a growing strength in the Democratic Party,” Prof. Jones said.
“I think this year and this set of elections really allowed for the galvanization of that,” Jones said.
“This year, we’re talking about COVID, the summer of protest, coming off of four years of a very interesting president,” Jones said.
“People are really acutely clear about things they need – health care, criminal justice protection – things that have cumulatively impacted Black people’s lives,” Jones said.
There are really two major demographic shifts that have contributed to Georgia’s political shift.
The first is the gentrification of Atlanta and the displacement of low-income and working class families, many of whom being people of color, out of the City of Atlanta due to Atlanta’s housing policies or lack thereof.
As a result of historically Democratic voters moving to the suburbs, we have seen changes in suburban Atlanta counties such as Cobb County and Gwinnett County.
Second, many of the people who have been moving to Atlanta and moving into the new high-rise housing developments in Atlanta’s neighborhoods of Midtown, West Midtown, and Buckhead, have brought their progressive values with them from their states of origin, including California, Oregon, and Washington.
Because Atlanta’s housing prices are comparatively affordable to other markets in the country, especially on the West Coast, the same high rents that have displaced low-income families have been a magnet perceived as low rents by the people of San Diego, California; and Seattle, Washington.
Meanwhile, the New Georgia Project and many other organizations have undertaken unprecedented organizing efforts to educate and mobilize voters.
“It’s understanding what’s at stake in general. It’s understanding the mandate and portfolio of a U.S. Senator,” Ufot said.
“It’s combating disinformation with high quality information that people could rely on and take action on. There were robocalls on Election Day and on Monday… targeting Black voters saying that make sure you come out and vote on Thursday, January 07 (the wrong day),” she said.
“I don’t think people appreciate how aggressive it’s being used as a tactic to interfere with our electoral process,” she said.
“In some of the major counties in the region, Cobb County cut over half of the early voting locations. They (the Legislature) cut the number of days for early voting. They cut the number of drop boxes,” she said.
“They (the Secretary of State) put out a memo to criminally prosecute in-line warming activities, if you give them a bottle of water in line, that we would be subject to criminal prosecution,” she said.
“That’s the context in which Georgia voters showed up. When all is said and done we will see ninety percent of the turnout that we saw in the November Election in the runoff, which is unheard of. Historic turnouts are between twenty and forty percent,” she said.
Both Ufot and Prof. Jones agreed that progressive values won the day.
“The progressive values and progressive political positions have kind of been the hallmark of Southern people… taking care of each other, mutual aid, being good stewards of the land and the water and the air, taking each other’s children in. A moral economy. That’s not a new posture for us at all,” Ufot said.
“It’s just that now we have the ability to elect officials, politicians who will share those values with us and take those values to Atlanta and (Washington,) DC – that we’ve been ignored for quite some time,” Ufot said.
Prof. Jones says that in order to secure these gains, it needs to be a top priority for the new Democratic Majority in Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which will amend the Voting Rights Act to restore provisions to require Justice Department preclearance of voting changes in certain jurisdictions (which were stricken by the Supreme Court of the U.S. in 2013 in Shelby v. Holder).
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2021)