Elections in Georgia (U.S. state)

Last updated

Elections in Georgia are held to fill various state and federal seats. Georgia regular elections are held every even year. The positions being decided each year varies, as the terms of office varies. The State Senate, State House and U.S. House will typically be up for election, as all of those positions have two-year terms. Special elections are held to fill vacated offices. Georgia is one of seven states that require a run-off election if no candidate receives a majority of the vote in a primary election. [1] Uniquely, Georgia requires a run-off election for state and congressional offices if no candidate wins a majority of the vote in a general election; only Louisiana has a similar requirement, but it operates under a different election system. [2]


In a ranking of U.S. states by electoral integrity by PEI electoral integrity project conducted in 2018, Georgia ranked 51st among all U.S. states and District of Columbia. While all other states' electoral integrity was valued at very high, high or moderate- Georgia was the only state in the rankings to be designated as a state with low electoral integrity. It scored 49 out of 100 in the PEI index, getting lowest marks in voting boundaries (18 out of 100) and the highest in Party and candidate registration (67 out of 100). [3]


Gubernatorial election results [4]
Year Democratic Republican
1950 98.4%230,771
1954 99.9%331,899
1958 99.9%168,414
1962 99.9%311,524
1966 46.2% 450,62646.5% 453,665
1970 59.3%620,41940.6% 424,983
1974 69.1%646,77730.9% 289,113
1978 80.7%534,57219.3% 128,319
1982 62.8%734,09037.2% 434,496
1986 70.5%828,46529.5% 346,512
1990 52.9%766,66244.5% 645,625
1994 51.1%788,92648.9% 756,371
1998 52.5%941,07644.1% 790,201
2002 46.2% 937,15351.4%1,041,702
2006 38.2% 811,04957.9%1,229,724
2010 43.0% 1,107,01153.0%1,365,832
2014 44.9% 1,144,79452.7%1,345,237
2018 48.8% 1,923,68550.2%1,978,408
Presidential election results [4]
Year Democratic Republican
1952 69.7%456,82330.3% 198,979
1956 66.5%441,09432.7% 216,652
1960 62.5%458,63837.4% 274,472
1964 45.9% 522,55754.1%616,584
1968 26.8% 334,44030.4% 380,111
1972 24.7% 289,52975.0%881,496
1976 66.7%979,40933.0% 483,743
1980 55.8%890,73341.0% 654,168
1984 39.8% 706,62860.2%1,068,722
1988 39.5% 714,79259.8%1,081,331
1992 43.5%1,008,96642.9% 995,252
1996 45.8% 1,053,84947.0%1,080,843
2000 43.0% 1,116,23054.7%1,419,720
2004 41.3% 1,366,14957.9%1,914,254
2008 46.9% 1,844,12352.1%2,048,759
2012 45.4% 1,773,82753.2%2,078,688
2016 45.4% 1,877,96350.4%2,089,104
2020 49.5%2,474,50749.2% 2,461,837

Following the end of martial law and readmission to the Union during Reconstruction, Georgia was overwhelmingly dominated by the Democratic Party for a hundred years, as were many other states of the Confederacy. White voters often perceived the Republican Party as the party of the North standing for Yankee values, growing industrialisation, and an excessively powerful and interfering federal government, all arrayed against their localized agricultural society. The abolition of slavery by amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the legacy of an economy damaged by war and social upheaval led many to bitterly oppose a wide variety of national policies.

Elections to the U.S. Congress during this period saw almost exclusively Democratic senators and either totally or almost-totally Democratic House rule. From 1872 to 2002, Georgia voters consistently elected Democrats as governor and Democratic majorities to the state legislature. Like many other Southern states, the Democratic-controlled legislature established run-off elections for primaries in which no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. [1]

Historically, elections at all levels of government in the U.S. state of Georgia were dominated by conservative white Democrats in the period between Reconstruction and the end of the New Deal Coalition. For decades, Republicans were a tiny minority, generally associated with Union military victory at the end of the Civil War. Indeed, for several years, the Republicans did not even field a candidate for governor or any other statewide elected office.

Beginning in the 1950s, the credible enforcement of new laws inspired by the Civil Rights Movement began to steadily erode the preponderance of Democrats in elective office in Georgia. The repeal of Jim Crow laws allowed previously disenfranchised African Americans to vote in elections and be active in politics. As many of these people joined with some white Democrats to work for more immediate liberal and pluralistic policies, a growing number of conservative white Democrats who supported either gradual change or none at all either began splitting their tickets at the national level or switching outright to the GOP. The strong showing in Georgia by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1956 presidential race proved to be a turning point. Georgia would remain competitive at the national level for most of the rest of the 20th century. the Republican Party appeared positioned to gain even more ground in the coming years. The Democratic Party did not carry the state from the 1960 election until Jimmy Carter ran for the White House 16 years later.[ citation needed ]

Modern times and the shift to Republican dominance

Beginning with Barry Goldwater's presidential bid in 1964, the Republican Party began making inroads in Georgia. The state swung over dramatically to support Goldwater—the first time it had gone Republican in a presidential election in American history. In time, the Republican Party of Georgia would field competitive candidates and win races for seats in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. Republicans also began making gains at the state level, mostly in the Atlanta suburbs. However, conservative Democrats continued to hold most offices at the local level well into the 1990s.

In presidential races, Georgia has given its electoral college votes to the Republican candidate all but five times since 1964: in 1968, segregationist George Wallace won a plurality of Georgia's votes on the American Independent Party ticket; former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won his home state by landslide margins in 1976 and 1980 (sweeping every county in the state in 1976); then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton won a plurality of votes in 1992 against incumbent Republican George H. W. Bush and Independent Ross Perot; and former Delaware Senator and Vice-President Joe Biden won a plurality of votes in 2020 against incumbent Republican Donald Trump. Republican George W. Bush won Georgia by double digits in 2000 and 2004, with 54.67% and 57.97%, respectively, of the vote, making him the only Republican presidential candidate to carry Georgia twice. In 2008, John McCain won the state by a narrower margin of only 5 points, winning 52% to Democrat Barack Obama's 47%. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the state with 53% to Obama's 45%. In 2016, Donald Trump won the state with 51% to Hillary Clinton's 46%.

Jimmy Carter, a politician from Plains and a descendant of Confederate veterans who was elected to the Georgia State Senate twice and later served a term as Governor of Georgia, became the 39th President of the United States after winning the election of 1976. Jimmy Carter.jpg
Jimmy Carter, a politician from Plains and a descendant of Confederate veterans who was elected to the Georgia State Senate twice and later served a term as Governor of Georgia, became the 39th President of the United States after winning the election of 1976.

By 2007, conservative Republicans had become the dominant force in state elections, with Republicans holding the offices of governor and lieutenant governor and significant majorities in both houses of the state General Assembly.

As in many states, Democratic strongholds in Georgia include urban and minority-dominated areas. Democrats typically fare well in cities such as Atlanta (and its suburbs such as Gwinnett County), Macon, and Columbus, which have large minority populations, as well as Athens, home of the University of Georgia. The Republican Party dominates state elections through its hold on rural south Georgia, with a very notable exception in the southwestern part of the state; the Appalachian north; and many of Atlanta's further suburbs and exurbs. Former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, co-author of the Contract with America and architect of the 1994 "Republican Revolution," represented a district in Cobb County, a suburban Atlanta county which has since flipped to supporting Democratic candidates since 2016. [5]

A feature of Georgia elections is the requirement for 50%-plus-one majorities in general and primary elections, triggering runoff elections if no candidate receives a majority. From 1898 to 1962, the Democratic Party used a combination of the white primary and the county unit system to ensure that only white rural voters' preferences were reflected in the de-facto election of political offices across the state, although the white primary was abolished in the federal case King v. Chapman (1945). After the county unit system was struck down by the Supreme Court case Gray v. Sanders (accompanied by the election of Carl Sanders, who became the first Democrat to be nominated for governor by popular vote since the establishment of the county unit system), the General Assembly passed a bill to switch future Georgia elections to runoff voting. The bill was introduced and sponsored by Macon legislator Denmark Groover, who proposed that runoff voting “would again provide protection which … was removed with the death of the county unit system” and warned that “[W]e have got to go the majority vote because all we have to have is a plurality and the Negroes and the pressure groups and special interests are going to manipulate this State and take charge. [6] "

However, the following ascendance of the Republican Party culminated in the 1992 defeat of incumbent Wyche Fowler by Republican Paul Coverdell by runoff, despite Fowler leading the first round by a plurality. This led the Georgia Legislature, then controlled by Democrats, to change the state's laws requiring a run-off election only if the winning candidate received less than 45% of the vote. In the 1996 Senate election, the winner, Democrat Max Cleland won with only 48.9% (1.4% ahead of Republican Guy Millner) thus avoiding a run-off. In 2005 after Republicans took control of the legislature, the run-off requirement was changed back to 50%, in the same bill which implemented a requirement for Voter ID. [7]

Current status

The current Governor of Georgia is Brian Kemp, who was elected as a Republican in 2018. The Lieutenant Governor is Geoff Duncan. Other elected state executive officials include Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Attorney General Chris Carr, Commissioner of Insurance Jim Beck, and Superintendent of Schools Richard Woods.

The Georgia General Assembly has been controlled by the Republicans since 2004. They have majorities over the Democrats in both the Senate and House of Representatives by margins of 35 to 21 and 105 to 75 respectively as of 2019. In congressional elections, Georgia is now represented in the U.S. Senate by David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are both Republicans, with Loeffler having been appointed by Governor Brian Kemp after Johnny Isakson announced his retirement in 2019. The state also sends 14 members to the U.S. House of Representatives, which in 2019 included 9 Republicans and 5 Democrats.

However, in 2018, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams received 49% of the vote, resulting in the closest gubernatorial election since 1966; a following runoff for Secretary of State was the first time that a statewide constitutional office was subjected to a runoff election.

In the early 2020s, despite a Republican trifecta in the state government, the state became a competetive swing state, [8] with Democrats, including two progressive senators, winning all three statewide federal offices. [9] [10] The state voted for Joe Biden for president‚ and senators Jon Ossoff, and Raphael Warnock, the state's first Black senator. [11] The win was reported to be due to the increased turnout in African-American voters due to the work of Stacey Abrams and LaTosha Brown. [12] Raffensperger announced in 2020 that about 1,000 Georgians face investigation for voting twice in primary elections on 9 July. According to him, those voters returned absentee ballots and then showed up at polling places on election day. [13]

See also

Presidential elections

Presidential primaries

Related Research Articles

A write-in candidate is a candidate whose name does not appear on the ballot but seeks election by asking voters to cast a vote for the candidate by physically writing in the person's name on the ballot. Depending on electoral law it may be possible to win an election by winning a sufficient number of such write-in votes, which count equally as if the person was formally listed on the ballot.

Vote splitting is an electoral effect in which the distribution of votes among multiple similar candidates reduces the chance of winning for any of the similar candidates, and increases the chance of winning for a dissimilar candidate.

Southern Democrats are members of the U.S. Democratic Party who reside in the Southern United States.

Elections in New York (state) Overview of the procedure of elections in the U.S. state of New York

The results of elections in the state of New York have tended to be more Democratic-leaning than in most of the United States, with in recent decades a solid majority of Democratic voters, concentrated in New York City and some of its suburbs, including Westchester County, Rockland County and Long Island's Nassau and Suffolk counties, and in the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and Ithaca.

2008 United States Senate election in Georgia

The 2008 United States Senate election in Georgia took place on November 4, 2008. The run off election took place on December 2, 2008. Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss, first elected in 2002, sought re-election to his position as a United States Senator from Georgia. He was challenged by Democratic nominee Jim Martin and Libertarian nominee Allen Buckley. After a runoff election on December 2, Chambliss was elected.

Elections in New Hampshire Overview of the procedure of elections in the U.S. state of New Hampshire

Elections in the U.S. state of New Hampshire are held at national, state and local level. The state holds the first presidential primary in the national cycle. Elections for a range of state positions coincide with biennial elections for the House of Representatives.

Elections in Florida Overview of the procedure of elections in the U.S. state of Florida

Elections in Florida are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November in even-numbered years, as provided for in Article 6 of the Florida Constitution. For state elections, the Governor of Florida, Lieutenant Governor, and the members of the Florida Cabinet, and members of the Florida Senate are elected every four years; members of the Florida House of Representatives are elected every two years. In national elections, Florida plays an important role as the largest bellwether state, occasionally determining the outcome of elections for U.S. President — as it did in 1876 and in 2000.

Ranked-choice voting in the United States Electoral system used in some cities and states in the United States

Ranked-choice voting (RCV) is a ranked voting system implemented in some jurisdictions of the United States in which voters may prioritize (rank) their choice of candidates among many, and a procedure exists to count lower ranked candidates if and after higher ranked candidates have been eliminated, usually in a succession of counting rounds. In practice, there are several ways this can be implemented and variations exist; instant-runoff voting (IRV) and single transferable vote (STV) are the general types of ranked-choice voting systems used in the United States.

2002 United States Senate election in Alabama

The 2002 United States Senate election in Alabama was held on November 5, 2002. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions won re-election to a second term. As of 2018, this is the most recent Senate election in Alabama in which Colbert and Lawrence counties voted for the Democratic candidate.

2012 United States elections Election in the United States in 2012

The 2012 United States elections took place on November 6, 2012. Democratic President Barack Obama won election to a second term, though the Republican Party retained control of the House of Representatives.

1996 United States elections

The 1996 United States elections were held on November 5. Democratic President Bill Clinton won re-election, while the Republicans maintained their majorities in both houses of the United States Congress.

1992 United States elections

The 1992 United States elections elected state governors, the national president, and members of the 103rd United States Congress. The election took place after the redistricting that resulted from the 1990 Census. Democrats won control of the presidency and both chambers of Congress for the first time since the Republican victory in the 1980 elections.

Elections in Alabama Political elections for public offices in Alabama, USA

Elections in Alabama are authorized under the Alabama State Constitution, which establishes elections for the state level officers, cabinet, and legislature, and the election of county-level officers, including members of school boards.

2018 United States elections election in the United States in November 2018

The 2018 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. These midterm elections occurred during the presidency of Republican Donald Trump. Thirty-five of the 100 seats in the United States Senate and all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives were contested. Thirty-nine state and territorial governorships as well as numerous state and local elections were also contested.

2020 United States Senate elections Part of the U.S. elections held on November 3, 2020

The 2020 United States Senate elections were held on November 3, 2020, with the 33 class 2 seats of the Senate contested in regular elections. Of these, 21 were held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats. The winners were elected to six-year terms from January 3, 2021, to January 3, 2027. Two special elections for seats held by Republicans were also held in conjunction with the general elections, with one in Arizona to fill the vacancy created by John McCain's death in 2018 and one in Georgia following Johnny Isakson's resignation in 2019. In both races, the appointed Republican lost to a Democrat.

2016 United States presidential election in Georgia

The 2016 United States presidential election in Georgia was held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, as part of the 2016 United States presidential election in which all 50 states plus the District of Columbia participated. Georgia voters chose electors to represent them in the Electoral College via a popular vote, pitting the Republican Party's nominee, businessman Donald Trump, and running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence against Democratic Party nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and her running mate Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. Georgia has 16 electoral votes in the Electoral College.

1976 United States presidential election in Illinois

The 1976 United States presidential election in Illinois was held on November 2, 1976. All 50 states and The District of Columbia, were part of the 1976 United States presidential election. State voters chose 26 electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

2020–21 United States Senate election in Georgia Regular United States Senate election in Georgia

The 2020–21 United States Senate election in Georgia was held on November 3, 2020 and on January 5, 2021, to elect the Class II member of the United States Senate to represent the State of Georgia. Democrat Jon Ossoff defeated incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue in the runoff election. The general election was held concurrently with the 2020 U.S. presidential election, as well as with other elections to the Senate, elections to the U.S. House of Representatives and various state and local elections.

Jon Ossoff United States Senator-elect from Georgia

Thomas Jonathan Ossoff is an American politician who is a United States senator-elect from Georgia. He was previously a documentary film producer and investigative journalist.

2020–21 United States Senate special election in Georgia Special United States Senate election in Georgia

The 2020–21 United States Senate special election in Georgia arose from the resignation of Republican Class III Senator Johnny Isakson, effective December 31, 2019. Governor Brian Kemp appointed Republican Kelly Loeffler to serve as Isakson's interim replacement, effective January 6, 2020, and she has held the seat since. The election was held concurrently with the 2020 U.S. presidential election, as well as with other elections to the Senate, elections to the U.S. House of Representatives and various state and local elections. The winner would serve out the balance of Isakson's third term, which ends on January 3, 2023.


  1. 1 2 Wilson, Reid (4 June 2014). "Runoff elections a relic of the Democratic South". Washington Post. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  2. Hood III, M.V. (19 July 2014). "Hood: Georgia is one of few states with primary runoff balloting". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  3. https://www.electoralintegrityproject.com/peius2018
  4. 1 2 Leip, David. "General Election Results – Georgia". United States Election Atlas. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  5. https://www.mdjonline.com/elections/cobb-turns-blue-again/article_e088c400-e2e1-11e8-855e-434dbc95c36a.html
  6. Civil Rights in America: Racial Voting Rights
  7. "Runoff system a Southern relic". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. August 10, 2012. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  8. "How Georgia became a swing state for the first time in decades". Washington Post. 8 Nov 2020. Retrieved 7 Jan 2021.
  9. "Raphael Warnock might really be too radical for Georgia". Washington Post. 2 Dec 2020. Retrieved 7 Jan 2021.
  10. "Last night in Georgia, Black Americans saved democracy". The Brookings Institution. 6 Jan 2021. Retrieved 7 Jan 2021. Both candidates ran on progressive agendas
  11. "Joe Biden confirmed as Georgia winner after recount". The Guardian. 20 Nov 2020. Retrieved 7 Jan 2021.
  12. "How Black voters lifted Georgia Democrats to Senate runoff victories". The Guardian. 7 Jan 2021. Retrieved 7 Jan 2021.
  13. https://www.ajc.com/politics/1000-people-double-voted-in-georgia-primary-and-may-face-charges/RR7ZPMO2SBBVLOSCUUAV7S3JEQ/

Further reading