On Jan. 5, Georgia voters made history by voting in two new democratic senators. These runoff and special elections continue the recent blue wave coming from Georgia and officially gave Democrats control of the Senate.
This previews a change in political ideas in the country going forward. In short, it is indicative of a new widespread embrace of traditionally democratic values and a more extensive focus on voters’ rights. This transformation comes with a change in demographics, especially in urban pockets of Southern states.
Both Sen.-elect Raphael Warnock and Sen.-elect Jon Ossoff defied expectations by winning their respective races when the results were called Jan. 6.
Both candidates were considered unusual picks to run for the seats, according to ABC News-owned media outlet FiveThirtyEight. With strong backing from the Democratic Party and significant activism, they proved how a changing South can elect both a Black man and a Jewish liberal activist.
The New York Times cites Stacey Abrams has been credited with helping to register over 800,000 voters in the state. Through her organizations Fair Fight and the New Georgia Project, Abrams was successful in combating much of the voter suppression geared toward voters of color in her state.
According to the New Georgia Project’s mission statement, People of Color, those 18 to 29 years of age and unmarried women make up 62% of Georgia’s voting age population, but only 53% of those people are registered to vote. It is undeniable that without the tireless efforts of Abrams, we would not be able to celebrate such an astounding victory.
Abrams is an inspiration, not only to the people in her own state but to activists in all states wanting to fight voter suppression.
Another important change to consider is the demographic makeup of the state. It is no secret that, in general, higher education leads to higher rates of democratic thinking. So, as the number of college-educated individuals rises in the South and other historically red states, it is assumed that the number of voters who lean left rises as well.
It is also important to note this is most easily seen in metropolitan areas where the workforce demands a higher education, according to The New York Times.
This trend can be seen in Georgia’s demographic. Atlanta’s population has grown a considerable amount in the last 10 years, according to the United States Census. With that growth comes the growing number of residents who have gained higher education.
Atlanta accounts for 57% of the population of Georgia, per the 2018 Census. Illustrating the metropolitan education pattern, 33% of Georgia’s population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to a 2018 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.
With this new percentage of the population in Georgia holding at least a bachelor’s degree, the surveyalso found that the state now outranks both Michigan (31%), Wisconsin (31%) and narrowly trails California (34%).
This holds a great deal of significance, given Michigan and Wisconsin are both part of the blue wall states that have been traditionally democratic for years. These states helped Biden win the presidency in the 2020 election. As reported by FiveThirtyEight, Georgia’s flip to support Biden in the 2020 election opens a door for other traditionally red states to do the same in the future.
The attempted coup at the Capitol Jan. 6, in many ways, overshadowed the impressive victory that happened the same day in Georgia. However, it is important we give ourselves time to celebrate in the face of this unforgivable cataclysm.
According to NBC News, these two victories finally tied the 50-50 Senate with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker and democratic majority leader. This means Biden will have less pushback when working through his first 100 days agenda and beyond.
This is the first time a democratic president will be leading with a Democrat-controlled Congress since former President Barack Obama’s first term. That alone is cause for excitement for many U.S. citizens.
Yet another reason for celebration is the hope Georgia has instilled in many liberals during these elections. Biden was the first democratic candidate to win the state in nearly 30 years. A Democrat had not held a Georgia Senate seat in 20 years, as reported by BBC News. These broken barriers are just the beginning of what will be a new age of democratic thinking — both in the South and across the country.
Georgia, thanks to Abrams, has paved the way for more Southern states to advance their activism and work to abolish voter suppression.
The trend of metropolitan areas growing to be increasingly populated by college-educated adults is not exclusive to the state of Georgia. This demographic change can be seen in the 2018 American Community Survey findings in states with large cities, such as Texas and Arizona.
This dramatic shift in Georgia can and will forever impact the political scope of the country, thus lending hope to the fight for civil rights and liberties in the darkness and struggle that have become a trademark of the past year. Despite the continued hate and violent partisanship that grips the nation, this election is a ray of light and a beacon of hope for many.