Highly recommended reading this morning for those interested in the future of state politics: Shifting population could help Democrats in Georgia
The piece includes some expert political commentary:
Some Republicans realize they face a challenge down the line. Charlie Harper, editor of the conservative blog Peach Pundit, said any Democratic talk of a resurgence this year or in 2014 is wishful thinking on their part, but said six or eight years from now, things will likely be different.
“The Democratic voter base is growing faster than the Republican base,” said Harper, who also writes a column for a chain of rural newspapers. “If Republicans aren’t able to figure out how to solve some of the problems they’re grappling with now, Democrats will have a chance to take Georgia blue, or at least make it purple.”
In essence, he said, Democrats need not just a bench but a winning message. Georgia remains a conservative state, where polls have shown voters overwhelmingly eschew most tax increases, support limits on abortion and oppose gay marriage.
But, Harper said, voters also want results. And, if by the time Democrats are ready to compete again, Republicans haven’t talked about problems like transportation, and if cuts to the HOPE scholarship cause a backlash, the GOP could suffer the consequences.
I’m not going to recap all the data in the piece (I wish there were more data in the article, btw), but the picture is a pretty straightforward one that has been discussed often here on Peach Pundit. White voters in Georgia primarily vote Republican, but whites are making up a smaller and smaller share of the electorate with more rapid growth in the black and Latino communities.
For a national look at the same issue, I strongly recommend this recent post by Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight that details the daunting challenges Romney faces in light of demographic changes.
I agree with Charlie’s comments in the AJC piece. But I think there are a couple of points worth adding:
Charlie’s obviously right about the social conservatism of the state, but if the college students I’m teaching are any indication, we’re seeing a major generational shift across the usual demographic and political lines in terms of gay marriage.
And I agree that transportation and HOPE — and education costs generally — will be particular flashpoints going forward. Those issues are already coming into direct conflict with Republican opposition to any and all tax increases.
I’ll also add that lingering high unemployment will soften the support of whatever party finds itself in power.
Let me note one other thing in that AJC piece: “conservative blog”!