Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn with civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis.
Take a look at the chart to the right. In the 2012 presidential election, there were only 15 states decided by single-digit margins.
There can be wide swings from one presidential election to another. In 2008, Obama narrowly lost Missouri and won Indiana. Both states swung heavily red four years later, and Indiana isn't even on the list (Romney won it by 10.20 percent). So past performance isn't a foolproof indicator of future results. Some of these blue states have growing demographic trends favoring Democrats—Florida, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada. The rest are mostly aging, white, blue-collar midwestern states. We win those states on the strength of our economic message.
Looking at those red states, North Carolina is as purple as can be—demographic trends and the state's changing economic landscape (i.e. the Research Triangle) are pushing it leftward despite strong headwinds from the state's traditional conservative white rural base. Arizona turns browner (thus bluer) by the day. Like Texas, it will be purple within a decade unless Republicans figure out how to reverse their deficit among Latinos. Missouri is among the most evangelical states in the union with little demographic lift. It should continue trending away from us, its once-bellwether status long forgotten.
And that leaves Georgia. In absolute numbers, President Barack Obama lost Georgia by 304,861 votes in 2012. He lost the state by 204,636 in 2008 (or 5.21 percent).
Now consider this:
In the last decade, Georgia had a rapid rate of increase in its minority population, going from 37 to 44 percent minority over the time period. The increase in the minority population accounted for 81 percent of Georgia’s growth over the decade. Unusually, the biggest contributor to minority growth came from blacks, who alone accounted for 39 percent of Georgia’s growth. The next largest contributor was Hispanics, whose numbers increased at a scorching 96 percent pace and accounted for 26 percent of the state’s growth [...]
Of metro Atlanta’s roughly one million new residents over the past decade, 90 percent are non-white (54 percent African American / 31 percent Hispanic).
Indeed, Georgia is expected to become a minority-majority state by 2020, along with Maryland and Nevada. But of course, that's just part of the equation. Because you know the drill—if our people turn out, we win, and in Georgia, that's not happening
There are more than 600,000 unregistered black Americans in Georgia, plus thousands of unregistered Latinos, Asian-Americans, women and millennials. At an average cost of $12 per registration, it would cost less than $8 million to register virtually all of Georgia’s unregistered black voters. If even half of them had voted for President Obama in 2012, we would be having a very different conversation today.
There's been lots of buzz over efforts to turn Texas blue, and demographic math suggests it will be purple by 2024. But there are 16 electoral votes in Georgia that will be in our column before Texas turns. The only question is how quickly Democrats engage those non-voters. Do it sooner rather than later, and we might even pick up a Senate seat in the Peach State this year.