Rejecting an increase in the minimum wage. Abolishing the Department of Education. Killing Common Core … even though it was concocted by a group of their own governors.
All of these opinions were espoused Saturday night during the latest GOP Senate debate. But if Republicans plan on keeping Saxby Chambliss’ seat in the “red,” they will have trouble this fall with positions like those.
That’s because a recent demographic trend highlighted by TheHill.com shows Georgia is already “blue.”
Georgia’s population grew by 1.5 million between 2000 and 2010. Of those, 81 percent — 1.2 million — were nonwhite. That brought down Georgia’s percentage of whites from 63 percent in 2000 to 59.7 percent in 2010. And that number was down to 55.1 percent in 2012, according to new estimates.
The only thing that kept Barack Obama from winning Georgia in 2008 and 2012 is the fact that these Democratic core constituencies have very low voting rates. Metro Atlanta has about 600,000 unregistered African-Americans. Register and turn out half of those, and Obama would have won Georgia in both elections.
Throw in the number of Latinos (doubling over the past decade to about 9.2 percent of the state’s population), young voters, single women, Asians and other core Democratic groups, and the most bedrock Republican can see where this is heading.
Now, you can certainly make the claim that if a candidate like Barack Obama can’t get these groups registered and voting, then no one can. But in Georgia there have been no legitimate, big-name candidates, at the statewide level, around whom for Democrats to rally.
That has changed, with two of the biggest names in Georgia political history — Nunn and Carter — both on the ballot in November in statewide races.
Certainly, candidates must play to their base in the primary, which means positions like abolishing the Department of Education (that one, from Paul Broun) will play well among conservatives.
But Georgia GOP leaders and candidates must begin asking themselves: are hard-right stances, like continuing to oppose an increase in the minimum wage (is $7.25 to 10 bucks really a big deal?) worth losing Georgia … perhaps permanently?