By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla
Atlanta, Nov 7 (EFE).- Few places better reflect the extreme political polarization in the United States than Georgia, a state where the electorate is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats and which will, by all accounts, be key in determining whether President Joe Biden’s Democratic party retains control of Congress in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in this Deep South state in 2020 by just 11,000 votes, a tight result that was used by the Republican then-leader to inflame his supporters, convincing many of his followers that Democrats had “stolen” the election.
Two years later, Georgians’ votes will once again be crucial, given that up for grabs is a US Senate seat, control of which may decide which party holds the upper house in Congress.
Recent voter surveys show that it’s a very tight race between current Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Baptist minister, and Republican former football star Herschel Walker, who is running on an anti-abortion platform although he has been accused by several women of paying for their abortions.
Both men are African Americans.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, a black Democrat, told international reporters including EFE that he has plans in place to ensure that the polls are safe on election day with police posted there who will prevent any violence or threats against voters from occurring.
Dickens said that no attacks on polling places where people were “early voting” had been registered locally, but certain election officials had received various threats.
He said he and his administration want Republican candidates to accept the result of the elections if they lose, noting that Trump did not do so in 2020 claiming that the election had been stolen from him, a “Big Lie” that has been brewing among GOP candidates, the Republican “base” and on the social networks ever since.
Georgia, the home state of the late Rev. Martin Luther King and the cradle of the US Civil Rights movement, is a state with a vibrant economy that has experienced explosive population growth in recent decades.
The population increase is basically due to the increase in minorities, with the African American population, for example, representing 30 percent of the electorate, well above the average percentage for the rest of the country.
The state has shaken off the stigma of being a traditionally Republican southern state to become a state where the electorate is virtually evenly divided between the two main parties, as Bernard Fraga, a political scientist at Emory University, said.
Things are so equal that there is the possibility that Warnock and Walker might have to face off in a runoff if neither one of them can get more than 50 percent of the vote.
If that were to occur, the uncertainty over which party controls Congress might last for additional weeks and if the Republican candidate eventually won that might prevent Biden from moving forward with his agenda during the second half of his term, which ends in January 2025.
The current occupant of the White House is not enjoying good popularity numbers at present, in part because inflation has resurged and in September stood at an annualized rate of 8.2 percent, the highest in many years.
In Georgia, the increase in prices has been greater than the national average, something that Republicans are using to their advantage.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican seeking reelection on Tuesday, promised on Monday at a press conference to lower taxes on Georgia residents to help offset the rise in prices.
He said that the country is experiencing the worst inflation in 40 years and Biden has increased taxes on Georgians, and Kemp vowed to help Georgians financially to help them deal with the Democrat’s “bad policies.”
On Tuesday at the polls, the white Kemp is facing an African American, Democrat Stacey Abrams, who four years ago attributed her defeat in the gubernatorial race to Kemp’s policies that made it more difficult for minorities to vote in Georgia.
Upon being questioned about the doubts about the electoral process due to Trump’s claims of fraud, Kemp said that this was a question for Abrams, claiming that she has devoted herself to destroying people’s confidence in elections over the past 10 years.