Georgia has been a Republican state for several decades with some exceptions. However, with this election, the red state has made a move away from that – as Georgia faces the possibility of becoming a battleground state.
The Republican Party is struggling to gain the votes of new eligible voters in the state. About 34 percent of millennials affiliate with or lean toward the Republican Party, according to the Pew Research Center, in comparison to the Democratic Party which holds 50 percent.
As reported in the Red & Black, Charles Bullock, the Richard B. Russell Chair in Political Science at the University of Georgia, said the issue of support could become a slippery-slope for the party.
“If a younger cohort of voters stay Democratic, even as they age a bit and the new voters come in behind them are also Democratic, then the state becomes more democratic as the older voters die off,” he said.
Ryan Bakker, an assistant political science professor at UGA, said Georgia’s growing disdain for the Republican Party stems from its controversial presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
“Lots of traditional Republicans, particularly in the South, are not really thrilled about this ‘loud-mouthed, New York businessman,’” he said. “What does Donald Trump know about poor, rural southern life?” The party is at a divide, according to a Gallup poll from May 2016, with a 64 percent favorable opinion among Republicans and Republican leaners for the GOP nominee.
While Trump may be splitting the party, he is uniting Americans in voter participation. An increase in overall voter turnout may not hurt Georgia’s conservative party, but the change in voter demographics might.
In the 2000 presidential election, non-Hispanic whites made up 75 percent of Georgia voters, but that number is on a steady decline, making up only 61 percent of voters in the 2012 presidential election. An increase in minority voters could pose issues for a party that consists of 89 percent non-Hispanic whites in 2012, according to Gallup.
“If demographic shifts continue the way they are, Georgia could easily become a battleground state,” Bakker said. University of Georgia’s College Republicans are working hard to secure their state’s party.
“We have a pretty razor sharp focus on our local races,” said Amber Webb, senior political science student and chairman of the organization. “We’re really focusing on our state, how we can keep all of our politicians that are currently in office, keep them there, and how we can elect more staff.”
Trump is currently leading Clinton in Georgia, predicted to have 49.9 percent of votes versus 45 percent for the Democratic nominee, according to FiveThirtyEight.
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