Following the announcement of Joe Biden defeating Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, citizens all over the country took to the streets to cheer for the appointment of the 46th president, and people in Georgia are not excluded.
Videos on several social media platforms have surfaced online showing people in Midtown Atlanta waving American flags, Black Lives Matter signs, and pride flags as they dance and shout in celebration of Biden’s victory.
Even near Newnan, people are celebrating a monumental victory after Trump’s controversial reign. Emily Nesbitt, a Northgate junior, recalled a moment she witnessed while working at the Blue Eyed Daisy in Serenbe: “I clocked out and started pulling out of the parking lot when I was stopped by around fifty golf carts. Elderly, toddlers, and middle-aged people were wearing masks, cheering, and holding Black Lives Matter and Biden-Harris signs. Store employees and owners came out of their shops and embraced one another. There was such a sense of unity and hope that had been missing the past four years.”
While the presidential race seemed unclear throughout the election, with many people anxiously waiting as votes were counted and states were called, many had thought Georgia—a reliably red state—would be in favor of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
What people did not expect was the ruby-red Peach State turning blue after years of consistently voting Republican since 1992. With Trump in the lead in Georgia during the beginning of the election, many couldn’t believe when Biden took on a narrow lead in the end.
This long-held dream of Democrats to turn Georgia blue can be applauded by the visionary efforts of Stacey Abrams, African-American politician and voting rights activist.
Abrams—along with other Black female elected officials, voting rights advocates, and community organizers—understood why Democrats were often unsuccessful in garnering Southern votes in the past decade. The main reasons being the region’s steady conservative lean, voter suppression tactics, and failure of Democrats to engage potential voters.
“The key to winning Georgia, [Abrams] wrote, was engaging new voters, establishing strongholds in Georgia’s demographically changing suburbs, and protecting voters’ access to the polls.”
Georgia’s unexpected flip can be thanked by organizations that Abrams founded such as the New Georgia Project, a nonprofit focused on registering and mobilizing black voters, and Fair Fight Action, an organization aimed at building voter protection teams that was founded shortly after Abrams lost the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election to Brian Kemp after claims of voter suppression.
Since 2018, these organizations have helped register over 800,000 new voters, mainly those who are young and of color—two groups often left out of the political process, but which presented the best chance at flipping Georgia. This vast new army of first-time voters put Joe Biden over the top in the southern state by more than 10,000 votes as of Sunday.
However, the shift might not be too unexpected. According to experts and advocates, Georgia’s rapidly changing demographics helped make the state’s shift to blue a possible reality, and the work of Abrams and grassroots voting rights activists heavily increased that shift.
“Stacey Abrams had the foresight to see the demographic changes, and so she started to create the organizational infrastructure that would actually put the Democrats in place to be able to move to identify, register and mobilize new voters,” said Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University.
Add that with enthusiasm among Black, Hispanic, and Asian-American voters, along with a larger population of white voters leaning Democratic, and Georgia’s flip to blue seems less surprising. Furthermore, with anti-Trump sentiment running high across the country, the 2020 presidential elections offered a perfect opportunity to turn anger into electoral success.
Abrams’ strategy of expanding existing coalitions to include disengaged voters has not only transformed Georgia into one of the most competitive battleground states in the country, but potentially provides a blueprint for how Democrats can win elections in other red states drifting blue.
“Georgia has had the potential for years,” Abrams said in an interview before the election. “It didn’t just start this cycle. This has been work that’s been ongoing for nearly a decade, and I’m just proud to see it come to fruition and for it to finally receive the level of investment it deserves.”
“We made the impossible happen, and we can do it across this country, we can do it in every community, and we can do it on every issue because we will not stop. We will not give in, we will not give up, but more importantly, we will dream bigger than they think our imaginations can contain.”