Why the DNC Should Target Georgia

September 3, 2020 0 By Michael

Photo by LuAnn Hunt on Unsplash

From 1868 to 1964, Georgia, the self-proclaimed peach state, voted Democratic in each Presidential election cycle. In 1968, Georgia broke with nearly a century of voting for Democratic Presidential candidates. That year, Georgia gave its ten electoral votes to American Independent Party candidate George C. Wallace. Then in 1972, Georgia sided with Republican Richard Nixon, before again giving the nod to a Democrat, native son, Jimmy Carter in 1976 and 1980.

Ronald Regan got the state back in the Republican column in 1984, and George Herbert Walker Bush claimed Georgia in 1988. In 1992, Bill Clinton won the state for the Democrats, and Georgia has been solid red ever since. Going for Bob Dole in 1996, George Bush in 2000 and 2004, John McCain in 2008, Mit Romney in 2012, and Donald Trump in 2016.

Despite this dismal history, I believe the DNC should target Georgia in the upcoming General Election. Besides the fact on June 9, 2020, in the Georgia Primary, 52 percent of voters cast a democratic ballot, while only 47 percent requested a Republican ballot. More importantly, in the June Republican Primary, more Republicans voted for Senator David Perdue (992,555) than voted for Donald Trump (947,352), in uncontested races for both candidates.

These numbers suggest to me that the down-ballot is where the action is in 2020. Also, it indicates that Republicans are shying away from Trump. Moreover, in a recent WSB Poll of 500 likely voters, Trump led Biden 48 percent to 41 percent, with two percent going to Libertarian Jo Jorgenson. 

However, nine percent of voters were undecided at the end of August. The key number in this poll is not the fact that Trump has a sizable lead over Biden, it is that nine percent undecided vote. 

In 2020, an undecided voter unwilling to disclose who they are voting for in November. In this context, I view an undecided voter as a Biden voter who is afraid of repercussions from Trump or his supporters if it got out they plan to vote against Trump. If this conjecture is correct, Biden wins the nine percent undecided Georgia vote putting him at 50 percent.

Regarding the down ballot, Georgia can significantly impact the Democrat’s ability to flip the Senate in November.

For instance, the Republican Party holds a 53–47 majority in the US Senate. There are 35 senators up for reelection this year. Assuming Democrats hold onto their 47 seats, to win control of the Senate, Democrats will have to win three seats. Georgia can provide two of the three seats needed because of the special election to fill the unexpired term of Johnny Isakson, who retired last year due to health concerns.

In the special election to replace Isakson on the November ballot is Kelly Loeffler, a billionaire who was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp to serve until a permanent replacement is elected.

There are 20 other candidates, including US Representative Doug Collins from Georgia’s 9th Congressional District. Loeffler has never held an elective office and has not run a campaign. In contrast, Collins is an experienced politico and served as a representative on President Trump’s impeachment team. Collins is skilled in polemics and is a sagacious campaigner.

These two may split the decisive Republican vote in the state, which will lead to an opportunity for a Democrat to emerge the winner without a run-off.

One of the possible Democratic winners is Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Senior Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. served as pastor. Warnock has a servant’s heart. He understands the people and has the humility to go to Washington and uplift the people of this state and the nation.

But Warnock will have to beat back a challenge from Ed Tarver, an Obama appointee as US Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Tarver prosecuted sex traffickers whose victims sometimes ended up in counseling sessions with Warnock. Should one of them emerge as a strong contender for the Democratic vote, Georgia could pick up an unexpected seat in the Senate and elect its first Black Senator.

In the other senate race John Ossoff, a Democrat, is pitted against Republican David Perdue. Ossoff is a media executive and investigative journalist. He has investigated corruption in government and would be an asset in helping the Senate to reign in waste in government spending. By electing two Democrats, Georgia will play a pivotal role in flipping the Senate. The Democrats will only have to pick up one additional seat to convert the Senate to blue.

The DNC should devote a considerable amount of time in Georgia trying to get a winning candidate to rise to the occasion in the special election and the seat that Perdue has held for one term.

Harold Michael Harvey is the Living Now 2020 Bronze Medal winner in the category of male memoir for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. He is a Past President of the Gate City Bar Association. He is the recipient of Gate City’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award, which he received for his pro bono representation of Black college students arrested during Freaknik celebrations in the mid to late 1990s. An avid public speaker, contact him at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com.