ATLANTA – Georgia may be a red state all the way, but its color might as well be beige.
Expected to have at least a few interesting – closely contested, that is – elections, the state on Tuesday further entrenched itself as a Republican mainstay. Especially at the state level.
After a quick look at Tuesday’s election results, one could argue the state’s current congressional districts are perfectly drawn for incumbents.
Consider this fact: In the 13 congressional districts that existed before Tuesday’s election, incumbents clearly ruled the day. In the newest district – a 14th district gained following the last Census – a Republican picked up an overwhelming win.
Romney won the state with 53 percent of the vote. Obama won slightly more than 45 percent – below the 47 percent he picked up four years ago.
In arguably the state’s bluest of districts, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat and a Civil Rights icon, won with nearly 85 percent of the vote. In one of the night’s tighter races, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, a Republican who represents portions of the city’s northern suburbs, escaped defeat with a mere 62 percent of the vote.
There was only one congressional race with any sort of national implication. In that race, U.S. Rep. John Barrow, a moderate Democrat, was able to hold off a concerted Republican challenge.
Barrow, who voted against Obamacare two years ago, is the one of the last white Southern Democrats. He was once one of two in the state; two years ago, another moderate Democrat, Jim Marshall, was defeated in his bid for re-election.
So much for the hotly contested notion that Republicans in the state legislature gerrymandered the lines of Barrow’s district to guarantee he would lose? Barrow may be an anomaly.
When Barrow was first elected, he lived in the Democratic stronghold of Athens. He later moved to another Democratic stronghold, Savannah, after his lines were redrawn. Before this election, Barrow relocated to Augusta, a considerably more conservative city.
In one highly contested state election, Republican Hunter Hill edged out state Sen. Doug Stoner, a Democrat. And, on Wednesday, an independent state lawmaker from Middle Georgia told The Associated Press he is considering joining the GOP, a move that would give Republicans a super majority in the state legislature.
“Simply saying that you have a supermajority who call themselves Republicans doesn’t mean that they all agree with each other,” The Associated Press quoted Gov. Nathan Deal as saying. “And you see that regardless of whether it’s the Democrats or the Republicans.”
State Rep. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he thinks the state’s red days are numbered.
“You have a lot of things combining,” the newspaper quoted Carter as saying. “You have a change in demographics, but you also have a governing coalition in Georgia that’s untenable. There’s fewer and fewer people who identify with either party, and independents are going to stop breaking to Republicans.”
If that’s true, Rockdale County, located east of Atlanta, might be a case study in the state’s changing demographics. This once Republican stronghold went strongly for President Obama in 2008 and again in 2012, with nearly 58 percent of the vote casting ballots for the incumbent president.
Nearly all of the countywide offices are now held by Democrats. Only popular Sheriff Jeff Wigington held on for re-election – by a mere 18-vote margin.