In the past 48 hours, there have been something like 1,854,865,732 tweets about what’s happening with the vote in Georgia. Not all of them have been . . . accurate. For instance, ABC footage of voters confused the state of Georgia with the country of Georgia. (Hint: The country is about 6,300 miles to the east.)
Then there’s this tweet from FiveThirtyEight editor Nate Silver suggesting journalists were caught off guard by some of the bigger the news out of Georgia: “I’m not sure it’s really sunk in yet, even among reporters, that we’re probably going to get 2 runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5 that will determine control of the Senate.” (While the race has not officially been called, it looks as though incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue will run against Democrat Jon Ossoff in a January 5 runoff.)
Roughly 86 percent (and counting) of journalists in the state stepped up to correct the record. “Here in Georgia we’ve known about/planned for the probability for months!” GPB’s Stephen Fowler fired back.
Judging from Fowler’s volume and timing of tweets since Election Day, he’s averaging about three hours of sleep per night. But he didn’t let that slow his roll: “Note to people outside of Georgia: We do have political journalism here, do it quite well, there’s more than just the stellar people at the AJC and it’s pronounced duh-KAB, HOW-stun and suh-PORT-lo-cull-JOUR-nuh-lizm.” (For further schooling on such things, see our handy Out-of-Towners’ Guide to Atlanta and Georgia; Silver might wanna bookmark it.)
“So often, Georgia and the South is reduced to parachute reporting, broad generalizations and fetishizations of politics+culture,” Fowler continued, “and I relish the fact that people are now extra paying attention to the work my colleagues in print/TV/radio are doing in this great state.”
In honor of Fowler and his fellow scribes, we’ve collected 20 tweets from 20 Georgia-based journalists who have helped all of us—whether you live in the United States of America or in the Caucasus region of Eurasia—process the mania of the past two days. We suggest you follow the work of each of them; it looks like the mania will continue for at least another two months, until the Senate runoffs. And this being 2020, it’s doubtful we’ll have a single slow news day in the interim.
Let’s start with one of Fowler’s tweets from (double-checks the time-stamp) 3:24 IN THE MORNING on November 4:
It's 3:22 a.m., counties have stopped uploading, there may be a quarter million ballots left an I'm going to sleep after a 20-hour day.
See y'all in a few hours to continue making sense of it all, plus a breakdown of our smooth-ish Election Day voting and wacky counting. pic.twitter.com/JZiTFDTwI8
— stephen fowler covers Georgia's election! (@stphnfwlr) November 4, 2020
Here’s a little more schooling (there can never be too much) on the truths known to reporters based in this state:
Please spare Georgians the hot takes on being surprised the state is actually in play. It's always been in play. There have been people on the ground doing the work here for years. You're seeing the fruits of their tireless labor, regardless of the election's final outcome.
— Beth McKibben → 😷 & get your flu shot (@TheLazySusan) November 4, 2020
Speaking of “on the ground doing the work” . . .
gotta admit i thought Gov. Barnes was on one when he told me this would work a few weeks back. but — as far as the coalition goes — it looks like he was basically right. https://t.co/UUAXbwlX8D pic.twitter.com/crHnELbLDK
— Charles.Bethea (@charlesbethea) November 5, 2020
Okay, this tweet isn’t about election coverage. But the story should be required reading for Georgians and non-Georgians alike looking to expand their understanding of the diversity of DeKalb County (Buford Highway in particular):
As it happens (and maybe @jakesilverstein + the rest of the @NYTmag crew are just clairvoyant), DeKalb County, now a pivotal factor in the tightening vote count in Georgia, will be on the cover of the Times Mag on Sunday: https://t.co/oejrGivxgm
— Matthew Shaer (@matthewshaer) November 5, 2020
Here’s an AJC reporter’s behind-the-scenes thread—complete with a cigar-wielding county commissioner—of the vote-counting efforts at State Farm Arena:
Here’s the beehive inside the State Farm Arena suite where Fulton County is trying to finish processing the last of the roughly 142K absentee-by-mail ballots it received by mail. @ajc pic.twitter.com/jHajwZlDRa
— Ben Brasch (@ben_brasch) November 5, 2020
The “thank you, gentlemen” was such a lovely touch from this breaking-news post from a WABE host:
BREAKING: Chatham Cty Superior Court Judge James Bass, Jr. re: Trump campaign & GA GOP lawsuit alleging county counted ballots after GA deadline. Judge Bass: "After listening to the evidence, I'm denying the request, dismissing the petition, thank you gentlemen."
— Rose Scott (@waberosescott) November 5, 2020
An AJC political reporter noted the moment when Senator David Perdue slipped below the 50-percent mark in his race against Jon Ossoff:
U.S. Sen. David Perdue has fallen below the 50-percent mark in Georgia. If this holds, he will face Democrat Jon @Ossoff in a Jan. 5 runoff that, along with Georgia’s other race, could determine control of the Senate. #gasen #gapol pic.twitter.com/nFVueLZ4jW
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) November 5, 2020
As the excruciatingly incremental vote tallying continued in Georgia, a former AJC reporter (and contributor to this magazine’s “The Way We Live Politics” package) invoked the late Congressman John Lewis:
I just know John Lewis is smiling. I reread his final words in the NY Times on Election Day because they would ring true in this particular election (and really beyond). Here's a reminder of his championing of democracy: https://t.co/Il2cF66Q1J https://t.co/40SaQZ3Nra
— THIS IS A MARIAH CAREY STAN ACCOUNT (@newsworthy17) November 5, 2020
Here’s a reminder from a WSB-TV investigative reporter that there’s no evidence the Democrats are stealing anything, because . . .
For those claiming that somehow Georgia election officials are trying to “steal” the election for Joe Biden – I’d just remind you that Georgia’s Secretary of State is a Republican Trump supporter.
— Justin Gray (@JustinGrayWSB) November 5, 2020
The suburbs, they are a changin’ (or have been changed for a while now, but still.):
Having covered a lot of Georgia elections, it is still extraordinarily weird to look at numbers from the former GOP stronghold of Gwinnett County and see Democrats with an 18-point advantage. #gapol
— Jay Bookman (@jaysbookman) November 5, 2020
Our own intrepid Thomas Wheatley surveyed the scene inside and outside State Farm Arena:
— Thomas Wheatley (@thomaswheatley) November 5, 2020
Everything you wanted to know about absentee ballot adjudication but were afraid to ask:
— Chris Joyner (@cjoyner) November 5, 2020
Or, if you’re not inclined to read the above-mentioned AJC story, here’s a WABE reporter’s TL;DR version:
In addition to scanning thousands of absentee ballots, Fulton County also says it's adjudicating 25,000 ballots. This involves a 3-person panel: a Republican, a Democrat and a county elections official reviewing hand-marked absentee ballots that have been rejected by the scanner. pic.twitter.com/e5St2EuUp8
— Emil Moffatt (@EmilMoffatt) November 4, 2020
And we initially thought we’d have Georgia wrapped up by noon today (hahahahaha):
To be clear, nobody knows how many votes still need to be counted in Georgia. I haven’t seen a statewide count of provisional ballots. Even if such a thing existed, the deadline for military and overseas ballots is Friday at 5 p.m. #gapol
— Johnny Kauffman (@JohnnyIK) November 5, 2020
Did you think Georgia became a battleground state overnight? Think again:
Georgia isn't "suddenly" a battleground — the surge in Democratic representation at the state's ballot boxes is a consequence of focused efforts to re-engage/re-empower disenfranchised voters.
An excellent and extremely timely @soljourno story from @carlisanjohnson: https://t.co/rYmRPTPu4M
— Keren Landman (@landmanspeaking) November 5, 2020
More on that whole battleground-state-overnight nonsense:
Just spoke with a longtime Georgia politics professor who marveled at all the calls he's getting from shocked reporters in D.C.
We laughed. The state's been shifting Democratic for years.
“This is not your father or grandfather’s Georgia,” he said. “It’s a different Georgia."
— Jenny Jarvie (@JennyJarvie) November 5, 2020
A reminder that it’s hard enough to count 159 counties, let alone count all the votes in them:
And be warned: In the second most populous of those counties, absentee ballot adjudication (see those primers above!) is gonna take a while:
Elections director Kristi Royston won't say whether she expects to get done tonight or tomorrow — initial estimate was this would last thru Saturday — but she said folks will keep counting into the evening, "as long as we can still be productive." https://t.co/HJb68882qs
— Amanda Coyne (@AmandaCCoyne) November 5, 2020
And just when you thought today couldn’t get any more tense, President Trump addressed the nation—and, among other indignities, slammed the integrity of Georgia’s elections. To which this 40-year AJC political reporter politely pointed out:
On TV just now, President Donald Trump says the states yet to be called in the presidential contest are corrupt Democratic-run states. So about Georgia…..
— Jim Galloway (@politicalinsidr) November 5, 2020
An AJC statehouse reporter quickly found a fitting way to sum up how fast the vote was shifting when it came to this particular battleground:
— Maya T. Prabhu (@MayaTPrabhu) November 6, 2020