Republicans managed to not only avoid runoffs in the top-tier Senate and Governor’s races, they had sizable wins, and even took the 12th District away from John Barrow after years of trying. It clearly wasn’t time for Georgia to become a blue state, or even a purple one. Yet, Georgia is looking a little less red than it did four years ago, the last time a midterm election was held.
Gwinnett County has been a target for Democrats in recent years. It is the first majority-minority county in the state, and its rapid urbanization should make it likely to follow Fulton and DeKalb counties in becoming Democratic. It was in the crosshairs this year as well. However, the good news that Gwinnett held on should be tempered somewhat by comparing 2010 results with those from Tuesday.
In 2010, Gwinnettians gave Johnny Isakson a resounding win, with 65.1% of the vote, better than the statewide tally of 58.3%. 51.7% of eligible voters cast a ballot, and Isakson lost 44 of 156 precincts. Four years later, David Perdue received 52.3% of Gwinnett’s vote, slightly less than the statewide vote of 52.9%. 50% of eligible voters participated, and Perdue lost 58 precincts.
The map at the top right illustrates the results of the 2012 presidential election. Democrats were the strongest in the Centerville area in south Gwinnett, and along the I-85 and Georgia 316 corridors. The red area between them has long been a Republican stronghold, along with Peachtree Corners and the northern part of the county. The map below it shows the relative loss of votes for David Perdue compared to Isakson’s win four years ago. The deeper the shade of blue, the more leakage there to Michelle Nunn.
Precinct 14, which has long had one of the largest Republican voter turnouts voted 65.1% for Johnny Isakson in 2010. This year, 51.7% pulled a ballot for David Perdue. Precinct 46, located near Snellville. regularly has the highest percentage vote for the GOP candidate. In 2010, 80.0% voted for Johnny Isakson. Tuesday, 71.9% voted for David Perdue.
The turnout difference in the Governor’s race wasn’t as dramatic. In 2010, 60.6% voted for Governor Deal, while 54.5% did in 2014.
Last week, Newsweek filed a story about how Georgia is divided into red and blue. It contrasted GOP strongholds in Forsyth and Dawson counties, with the reliable Democratic areas of south DeKalb and Clayton counties.
In the red state of Georgia, a razor-tight Senate race between Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue is catching some conservative voters by surprise.
“Why is it so close?” asked Margaret Eidson, 77, of Monroe. “I can’t imagine why it’s so close.”
The race didn’t end up being as close as most pundits predicted. But, for those who think Democrats failed in their efforts to make the state more purple, or who think that Georgia will remain a red state as we move towards the 2016 presidential elections, keep the results in Gwinnett County in mind.