Much has been said about the demographic and social changes that are supposedly sweeping through Georgia. Democrats hope these changes will make the Peach State competitive in 2014 for Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn, and might lead to Democratic wins in the 2016 Presidential and Senate races.
Is Georgia ready to go blue? A New York Times Upshot story says maybe not.
Nate Cohn’s theory is that southern states like Virginia, North Carolina and Florida have become swing states because of a large number of new residents hailing from the northeast and west coast. These migrants, along with others not originally from southern states, make a Democratic takeover more likely. For example, 41% of Florida residents were born outside the south. In Virginia, it’s 30%. Contrast that with Georgia, where only 20% come from outside the south.
If you look at this chart showing where Georgia residents were born going back to 1900, you can see that the percentages of migrants from other states and U.S. regions have stayed fairly constant since 1990. Indeed, the drop in the percentage of Georgia born residents can mostly be explained by the increasing number of migrants who were not born in the United States. Many of those migrants are not U.S. citizens, and are therefore ineligible to vote.
While the Upshot story focuses on Texas as a state not likely to flip from red to blue in the near future, perhaps the same thing can be said about Georgia:
The proportion of native-born residents from the South versus the Northeast and California roughly parallels President Obama’s share of the white vote in 2012, which was lowest in states like Mississippi and Louisiana and as high as the mid-30s in Virginia and Florida. Those tallies are good enough for victory in states where nonwhite voters make an above-average contribution to Democratic tallies, as is the case across most of the South.
Democrats were able to become competitive so quickly in states like Virginia and North Carolina because they combined a growing nonwhite share of the electorate with gains among white voters, particularly in postindustrial metropolitan areas full of Northern expats. Without additional gains among white voters, Democrats will be forced to wait a long time for the children of foreign-born residents to carry them to competitiveness in Texas, a state that Mr. Obama lost by 17 points in 2012, and where there isn’t a flood of Democratic-leaning voters from New York to bail them out.