The results of the 2020 election in Georgia have driven pundits and the public alike to not merely consider Georgia a swing State, but an outright blue State. In the first of a two-part series analyzing recent polling data released by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, we’ll discuss the challenges ahead for Republicans who face election in 2022. The challenges are real. While we don’t consider Georgia a blue State by any stretch of the imagination, Georgia is and should be considered fair game for any eager candidate.

However, throughout this post and the next, we want our central premise to be completely clear – the challenges are not curses for failure, and the opportunities are not guaranteed wins for either party. Organizations should take these as motivations to improve what they do now in order to properly and effectively build themselves for victory in 2022. Republican campaigns in particular need to be cautious of the challenges around a changing Georgia population and electorate.

Demographics aren’t destiny, although the way most people on the right and left talk you would think otherwise. However, Americans are certainly more aware of racial divides and finally taking more proactive approaches to at least discuss them. This naturally creates tensions. When a murder as horrific and disturbing as that of George Floyd is watched in broad daylight, Georgia will become a hotbed of activism. Our State’s history, both positive and negative, makes us a central focus in that discussion. Political challenges are expected, especially for Republicans.

Between the 2010 Census and 2019, Georgia’s Population grew by 9.517%, or roughly 930,000 people. 73% were of non-white descent. When looking at the polling data from the AJC, the results show a significant difficulty and untenable position for the Republican Party. 82% of black voters have an unfavorable opinion of the GOP, and 58% of other non-white voters share that same poor view. The GOP cannot hope to maintain much electoral success going forward if these trends continue, at least not without some shenanigans in redistricting.

Republicans are right to point to unfair media coverage in helping shape that opinion. However, policy decisions and public narratives aren’t helping to alleviate those concerns. The unwillingness to acknowledge the loss of the Presidency to Biden undermines any credibility with non-white voters. Damage is being done by the aggressive proposals to limit methods of voting in order to appease the fickle Republican base believing unproven claims of systematic “voter fraud.” Republicans should never consider media outlets their friend, but leaning into the villian role is not wise either. In both terms of public policy and politics, the narrative is only validating the worst claims about the GOP.

The challenges are really of the GOP’s own making, and can easily be overcome with intelligent campaigning. After all, controversial policies don’t automatically mean that swing seats will flip. In each of the cases where Republicans won, they leveraged strengths to win tough and close races (disclosure: our sister company, Atlanta Business Circulators, provided a number of support services to Republican Ed Setzler in his re-election campaign). Even though many of these Republican holds have seen tremendous demographic changes since the redrawn districts went into effect in the 2012 election, the vulnerability of Georgia House seats was overstated by Democrats and overhyped by media outlets.

Georgia is a jewel in America’s crown. The natural result of our State’s pro-growth policies, low cost of living, and just plain better climate are the reasons people want to move here. Not everyone that relocates to Georgia are dyed in the wool fiscal and social conservatives. The GOP must at least tacitly recognize that truth. That reality doesn’t mean new Georgians are radical leftists either. Most people who come to Georgia simply want a better life, and they’re hoping the growth they’ve seen the past ten years will continue for ten more and beyond.

After all, for those non-white voters who have low marks for the GOP, they sure are optimistic about the way the country is moving. Among black voters polled by the AJC, 44% more thought the country was moving in the right direction as opposed to the wrong direction. The GOP in Georgia is right to claim credit for at least some of that optimism.