50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 4. Georgia

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. Previous posts can be found here

4. Georgia

Capital: Atlanta

Nickname: Peach State

Motto: Wisdom, Justice, Moderation

About the State

Georgia is the 24th largest US state (though the biggest East of the Mississippi) and ranks 9th in population, with 9.8 million residents, more than half of whom live in the Atlanta Metro area.  Originally the home of the Cherokee tribe of Native Americans and descendants of the Mississippian Culture people, the land was colonised by England in 1732, when George II (for whom the state was named) granted a Royal Charter to a Member of his Parliament, James Ogelthorpe.  After the Revolutionary War, a border was agreed between Georgia and South Carolina that left a slice of land that belong to neither state and was inhabited by the Cherokee Nation.  The Native Americans had their own Constitution and Laws and did not recognise the State of Georgia’s authority.  After a gold rush in the North part of the state resulted in large numbers of white settlers moving to the region, pressure was put on the US government to expel them.  The 1830 Indian Removal Act allowed President Andrew Jackson to negotiate with Native Americans living in the east of the Continent, to have them give up their land and relocate to West of the Mississippi, in Oklahoma.  Theoretically, this was voluntary for the Native Americans but, in 1838, President Martin Van Buren sent in federal troops to force them to migrate, which led to the “Trail of Tears” and the death of more than 4,000 Cherokee.

As with many other Southern states in the early 19th century, cotton became a major industry for Georgia, with demand for the fiber high from British textile manufacturers.  The production of cotton was done at a low cost through the use of slave labor and ultimately this led to the Civil War and the secession of Georgia from the Union on January 21st, 1861 – it became one of the original seven Confederate States the following month.  There were several battles fought in Georgia and the effects of the Civil War were felt severely by its residents – there were food shortages, which led to unrest and decreasing support for the campaign; and 1 in 5 men who enlisted in the Confederate army were killed.  After the war, there was a period of reconstruction in the state as it adjusted to building an economy without the use of slave labor and Georgia eventually rejoined the Union in 1870 – the last of those that seceded to do so.

After reconstruction, logging became a major industry in the state, as did coal and granite mining.  However, while the economy was growing, treatment of African-Americans had not significantly improved.  The leader of the first Ku Klux Klan in Georgia, Joseph E. Brown, was later elected Senator for the state; lynchings were common, numbering approximately one a month; and African-Americans were disenfranchised through beatings and obstructionist tactics to prevent them from voting.  When the Civil Rights Movement in the mid 20th century brought significant change to the rights of minorities, it was a Georgia native, Martin Luther King Jr, who was born in Atlanta, who was at the heart of the campaign.

Now, Georgia’s economy is based on agricultural production – it ranks as the number one producer in the USA of peaches, pecans and peanuts – tobacco and tourism, most of which is focused around Atlanta.  The state capital is also the home of CNN, TBS and TNT; while companies like Home Depot, Coca Cola and Delta Airlines also have their headquarters in Georgia.  President Jimmy Carter was born in the state and Atlanta is the home of three “Big Four” sports teams: the Braves (MLB); Falcons (NFL); and Hawks (NBA).

2012 Election

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 16

2008 Result: McCain 52.2% Obama 47.0%

Latest Poll: Romney +9%

The last Democrat to win Georgia’s Electoral College Votes was Bill Clinton in 1992 and in the four most recent Presidential elections, the state has gone to the Republican candidate every time.  It would be a big surprise if that trend were to change this time around, with Mitt Romney likely to have already shaded Georgia in dark red on his map.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There are no Senate elections in the state this year.  Georgia has gained an extra representative starting in January 2013, following the reapportionment from the 2010 Census, taking its total to 14.  There are currently 8 Republican and 5 Democratic Congressman representing the state and of those, Rep. John Barrow (D) is most vulnerable to lose his seat in the 12th District to GOP candidate, Lee Anderson.  The new, 14th district, is in a strongly red area of the state and thus the likely tally after the election will be 10 to 4 in favour of Republicans.  

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