It’s election season again, and political observers nationwide are paying more and more attention to Georgia, whose changing demographics indicate the lock that Republicans have had on statewide offices over the past decade is no longer a foregone conclusion. Case in point is this year’s gubernatorial race. There’s no doubt that a Jason Carter victory would be a stunning upset. But his supporters feel emboldened by the voting trends and polls that looked tight as we went to press. As Rebecca Burns explains in this month’s compelling profile of Carter, who’s looking to unseat Governor Nathan Deal, the young state senator’s best shot at winning lies in getting out the vote, especially among minority voters, who tend to vote Democrat.
Momentum is on Carter’s side. Consider black women voters: Eight years ago, when Sonny Perdue trounced Mark Taylor, only 45 percent of registered black female voters went to the polls. Four years ago, 55 percent voted—amounting to 150,000 more votes cast by black women in 2010 compared with 2006. Turnout among black men went up, too, from 39 percent to 44 percent.
Of course, white voters in Georgia still outnumber black voters by a margin of almost two to one. But there’s no denying that black voter turnout at the polls is increasing at a much faster rate than white voter turnout. (And it will probably only go up this fall; Georgia is making history for being the first state to field five black women for statewide office, while the GOP slate of candidates for statewide office is nothing but white men.) If Carter can sway independent white voters, and if his political machine can encourage heavy turnout among minorities, election night could be interesting.
Nathan Deal, for his part, doesn’t seem worried. I spent forty-five minutes chatting with him in August about his record as a governor, as well as the demographic trends that show Georgia transitioning toward a majority-minority state. We also discussed education, the failure of T-SPLOST, and why our traffic congestion may have to get worse before it gets better. What emerges from both Rebecca’s profile of Carter and my interview with Deal are two very different men, with very different ideas about what is best for Georgia.
And so now it’s up to you.
This article originally appeared in our October 2014 issue.