Battleground states always get the most attention and money during presidential elections.
Georgia hasn’t been among that group in decades, but Georgia Democrats say the usually reliably Republican state is in play this year and with some investment, Democrats can win statewide elections.
“Georgia is a battleground state. With 16 electoral votes with two Senate seats at play and with one of the most enthusiastic turnout ever for Democrats, we know that Georgia is a battleground state,” former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams declared in a Zoom press call recently.
She said the state’s demographic data is shifting and people of color now make up more than 40% of Georgia’s electorate. A recent Fox News poll suggests Joe Biden is ahead of Donald Trump in the state, but nationally Georgia is still ranked as slightly leaning Republican or at best a toss-up.
It’s as if Democrats here still need to prove themselves by winning a statewide election for Georgia to become a recognized battleground.
“It’s almost a show me first,” said Tammy Greer, a political scientist with Clark Atlanta University.
She’s been arguing for the last 12 years that Georgia could be a battleground, but she said the national Democratic party has not been paying attention nor invested much in the state. That has left Republicans in charge of state government, she said.
“What continues to bring Republicans hope in the state of Georgia is the lack of voter participation overall. So, in the 2018 election, 2.1 million Georgians did not vote,” Greer said.
Despite massive get-out-the-vote efforts, Stacey Abrams lost her gubernatorial race by 55,000 votes. Fast forward two years and Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the June primaries. In November, Georgians will have to decide on two U.S. Senate races and that could bring campaign money into Georgia.
“The thing that makes Georgia attractive to the Democratic National Committee are these two U.S. Senate seats. So Georgia should get some more attention than some of the other states,” Kennesaw State University political scientist Kerwin Swint said.
Abrams said Democrats have been in talks with the national party to make sure there will be some investment in the two Senate races this year.
“The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee understands that we can deliver two for one in Georgia. And they are committed to the state. Chuck Schumer has signaled from the beginning he believes we can win Georgia,” she said.
President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has recently started television ads in Georgia, which could be one sign the state could be getting closer to battleground status.