PredictWise gives Georgia, my current home state, a probability of 20% of a Clinton victory, putting Georgia in play. By no means would anyone consider Georgia a swing state. There’s enough correlation between states that if Clinton wins Georgia, she didn’t need to win Georgia having won big in the rest of the country. Nevertheless after voting the last several presidential elections in the democratic stronghold of Illinois, nice to think my vote might actually matter, at least to affect the number of electoral votes allocated.
It’s interesting to compare the two states to understand the shifts we see in Georgia. Illinois voted Republican for six straight elections, 1968-88 and then Democratic for six straight 1992-2012. Georgia has voted Republican since 1992 and mixed before that.
Both states have a democratic-heavy major city with most of the rest of the state republican but that’s where the demographic connections end. About 75% of the population of Illinois live in the Chicago area while about 55% of Georgians live in the Atlanta area. Atlanta proper has under 500,000 residents out of 5.7 million in the metropolitan area while the City of Chicago boasts 2.7 million out of 9.7 million. The near suburbs of Chicago are generally more liberal than the near suburbs of Atlanta.
Atlanta does not stand still. Many companies are moving their American headquarters or large R&D centers to the Atlanta area. Great weather, a well-connected airport, great universities are attracting industry and people to the city. From my office I see multiple cranes building condominiums and corporate headquarters in midtown Atlanta. The Atlanta region has grown 8% in population from 2010-2015 and 20% in the ten years before that. Much of that movement comes from the more democratic northern states.<
While I still expect Trump will take Georgia in the end and I probably wouldn’t even be writing this post if we had a different republican nominee, changing demographics in Georgia means that the state will play a role in the national conversation for years to come.
Lance Fortnow is a professor and chair at the School of Computer Science at the Georgia Tech College of Computing