Following the 2020 election and the media declaring Joe Biden the winner of Georgia’s 16 electoral votes, outlets rushed to declare failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams as the person who delivered the Peach State to the former vice president.
Detailed election data, however, shows Abrams’ effort may not have done much, if anything, to help Biden in Georgia.
The black share of the vote in Georgia declined to its lowest levels since 2006, The New York Times reported. Black turnout in the state did increase, but to a lesser degree than other groups, such as the well-educated and wealthy.
“The findings suggest that Mr. Biden’s win in Georgia may not yet herald a new progressive majority in what was a reliably red state, as Democrats still depend on the support of traditionally conservative voters to win statewide. It helps explain why Republican candidates won more votes than Democrats in the state’s two Senate contests, even as President Trump was defeated at the top of the ticket,” the Times reported. “But the relatively low Black share of the electorate could mean that Democrats have the potential for a better showing, perhaps even in the two Senate runoffs in January.”
As the Times reported, Biden made “few to no gains” in the “majority Black precincts on the south side of the Atlanta metropolitan area.”
“Democrats routinely win by overwhelming margins among Black voters in Georgia, so Mr. Biden had few opportunities to win majority Black areas by even wider margins. But he did have an opportunity to increase the Black share of the electorate, which fell in Georgia and across the country in 2016,” the Times reported. “Instead, the Black share of the electorate declined once again in Georgia, according to authoritative vote history data from the secretary of state. Black voters represented just over 27 percent of the electorate, down from 27.7 percent in 2016 and down from nearly 30 percent when Barack Obama was on the ballot in 2012.”
The reason we know this is because Georgia asks voters for the race when registering to vote, which in turn provides detailed voter data that isn’t available from most other states.
Abrams was hailed by the media for her efforts to register more than 800,000 new voters through her two organizations, Fair Fight and the New Georgia Project. But registration does not equal turnout, and Biden made more gains in the state with groups Abrams did not assist.
Before turnout data were available, the media credited Abrams with Biden’s win in Georgia. The state is currently conducting a recount, since Biden won by a razor thin margin (14,205 votes as of this writing, far fewer than the 50,000-plus by which Abrams lost her 2018 gubernatorial bid).
Some of that small margin was likely due to Abrams’ efforts, but the turn of high-income, suburban, and college-educated voters toward Democrats payed a much larger role in Biden’s reported win.