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]

In a 2020 study, Georgia was ranked as the 2nd hardest state for citizens to vote in.[4]


Gubernatorial election results[5]
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% 450,626 46.5% 453,665
1970 59.3% 620,419 40.6% 424,983
1974 69.1% 646,777 30.9% 289,113
1978 80.7% 534,572 19.3% 128,319
1982 62.8% 734,090 37.2% 434,496
1986 70.5% 828,465 29.5% 346,512
1990 52.9% 766,662 44.5% 645,625
1994 51.1% 788,926 48.9% 756,371
1998 52.5% 941,076 44.1% 790,201
2002 46.2% 937,153 51.4% 1,041,702
2006 38.2% 811,049 57.9% 1,229,724
2010 43.0% 1,107,011 53.0% 1,365,832
2014 44.9% 1,144,794 52.7% 1,345,237
2018 48.8% 1,923,685 50.2% 1,978,408
Presidential election results[5]
Year Democratic Republican
1952 69.7% 456,823 30.3% 198,979
1956 66.5% 441,094 32.7% 216,652
1960 62.5% 458,638 37.4% 274,472
1964 45.9% 522,557 54.1% 616,584
1968 26.8% 334,440 30.4% 380,111
1972 24.7% 289,529 75.0% 881,496
1976 66.7% 979,409 33.0% 483,743
1980 55.8% 890,733 41.0% 654,168
1984 39.8% 706,628 60.2% 1,068,722
1988 39.5% 714,792 59.8% 1,081,331
1992 43.5% 1,008,966 42.9% 995,252
1996 45.8% 1,053,849 47.0% 1,080,843
2000 43.0% 1,116,230 54.7% 1,419,720
2004 41.3% 1,366,149 57.9% 1,914,254
2008 46.9% 1,844,123 52.1% 2,048,759
2012 45.4% 1,773,827 53.2% 2,078,688
2016 45.4% 1,877,963 50.4% 2,089,104
2020 49.4% 2,474,507 49.2% 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] In addition, the Democratic primaries were further defined by their usage of the white primary to exclude African Americans and other ethnicities from participation, as well as the usage of the county unit system from 1898 to 1963 to allocate votes to winners along rural-biased lines.

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, 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.[6]

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.[7]"

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.[8]

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, until the 2021 runoffs, Georgia was represented in the U.S. Senate by David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, 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 competitive swing state,[9] with Democrats, including two progressive senators, winning all three statewide federal races.[10][11] The state voted for Joe Biden for president‚ and senators Jon Ossoff, and Raphael Warnock, the state's first Black senator.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

See also

Presidential elections

Presidential primaries


  1. ^ a b 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. ^ "PEI-US-2018 — the Electoral Integrity Project EIP".
  4. ^ J. Pomante II, Michael; Li, Quan (15 Dec 2020). "Cost of Voting in the American States: 2020". Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy. 19 (4): 503–509. doi:10.1089/elj.2020.0666. S2CID 225139517. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  5. ^ a b Leip, David. "General Election Results – Georgia". United States Election Atlas. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  6. ^ "Cobb turns blue, again".
  7. ^ Civil Rights in America: Racial Voting Rights
  8. ^ "Runoff system a Southern relic". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. August 10, 2012. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  9. ^ "How Georgia became a swing state for the first time in decades". Washington Post. 8 Nov 2020. Retrieved 7 Jan 2021.
  10. ^ "Raphael Warnock might really be too radical for Georgia". Washington Post. 2 Dec 2020. Retrieved 7 Jan 2021.
  11. ^ "Last night in Georgia, Black Americans saved democracy". The Brookings Institution. 6 Jan 2021. Retrieved 7 Jan 2021. Both candidates ran on progressive agendas
  12. ^ "Joe Biden confirmed as Georgia winner after recount". The Guardian. 20 Nov 2020. Retrieved 7 Jan 2021.
  13. ^ "How Black voters lifted Georgia Democrats to Senate runoff victories". The Guardian. 7 Jan 2021. Retrieved 7 Jan 2021.
  14. ^ "1,000 people double-voted in Georgia primary, says secretary of state".

Further reading