The State of Georgia Is in Play

New voter registrations are outpacing Republican efforts to purge the rolls.

Paul Waldman recently challenged the meme about Democrats being in disarray. He made some great arguments, but a lot of it comes down to this.

People in politics suffer from a kind of myopia, in which what’s right in front of them, being in sharp focus, seems like the most important thing that has ever happened or will ever happen. This Changes Everything, we say over and over, despite the fact that the last 10 or 15 events that were supposed to Change Everything turned out to be so inconsequential that we’ve already forgotten what they were.

That is precisely why I’ve been pointing to events that will happen over the next nine months, but are being completely ignored in the myopia of the moment. The 2008 meme about “no drama Obama” has been resonating for me lately. That one emerged because the candidate worked in the moment, but refused to be consumed by the noise of the day—keeping his eye on the long game.

Stories that combat the Democrats in disarray notion abound if you dig deep enough. For example, almost every day the state of Virginia is reminding us of what happens when we elect Democrats. While Trump constantly rails about the “do-nothing Democrats,” the House is about to vote on making Washington, DC the 51st state.

But in a story more directly tied to the 2020 elections, it is what’s happening in Georgia that caught my eye. That state is not only significant because of the presidential race. There are also three open House seats in play, along with both Senate seats.

Donald Trump won Georgia in 2016 by about five points. According to Morning Consult, his current net approval rating now stands at zero. However, the big news coming out of Georgia is that, even as Republicans in that state lead the nation in purging voters, they can’t do so fast enough to keep up with new registrations.

A wave of people signed up to vote in Georgia last year, adding 322,000 active voters to the rolls ahead of a presidential election in an increasingly competitive state…

There are now nearly 7.2 million registered voters in Georgia, a 3% increase in one year…

About 68% of Georgia’s 10.6 million residents are now registered to vote.

The number of new voters in Georgia has outpaced voter registration cancellations.

The demographics of those newly registered voters spells good news for Democrats.

The number of Georgia voters in the 18-34 age group has jumped 68% since October 2016, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of the state’s voter lists. That group now makes up 31% of the state’s total…

Meanwhile, the portion of the electorate that is white has fallen since 2016. White voters still make up a majority, accounting for 59% of those who identified their race when registering, but that number slipped from 62% four years ago.

A quick look at exit polls from Georgia in the 2016 election tells us why those numbers are so significant. In the 18-34 age group, Clinton beat Trump by 36 points, while people of color gave Clinton a whopping 69 point edge.

As Scott Hogan, the executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said: “Georgia is in play. The state is going to go blue. It’s just a matter of when.” That sounds an awful lot like what many of us have been saying about Texas, for the same reasons. It also underscores the importance of the work people like Stacey Abrams and Eric Holder are doing to combat voter suppression.

The fate of the Democratic Party doesn’t just rest with winning back the Midwest, even though that is an important goal. Just as we’ve seen with Virginia, the future of the party lies with turning states like Georgia and Texas blue. It’s going to happen. Whether it comes sooner or later could depend on what Democrats do to discard myopia and play the long game.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.