2020’s election has seen a series of firsts, including swing states we may not have seen before. A number of states, including Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia came down to razor-thin margins. Georgia, a state that has voted republican since 1996, is up for grabs. Here, we will explain the growing liberal voting patterns seen this year.
Firstly, we must explore the geography of a specific region in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi to explain why this area is so important to voting trends.
The term “Black Belt” stems from a period beyond the formation of the United States as a global entity. During the Cretaceous Period, between 139 to 65 million years ago, shallow seas encompassed much of the southern United States and gave rise to the geographical formation of the South.
“These tropical waters were productive–giving rise to tiny marine plankton with carbonate skeletons which overtime accumulated into massive chalk formations. The chalk, both alkaline and porous, led to fertile and well-drained soils in a band, mirroring that ancient coastline and stretching across the now much drier South. This arc of rich and dark soils in Alabama has long been known as the Black Belt.” -- Dr. Craig McClain, Chief Editor for Deep Sea News
Due to its unique agricultural benefits, this area saw huge exploitation of slaves to grow cotton. The development of slavery within the United States concentrated in this region, and after the Civil War, the Black population within the Black Belt remained; “African Americans make up over 50%, in some cases over 85%, of the population in Black Belt counties.” When it comes to elections, this area leans towards the left, as approximately 88% of in-votes in the Black Belt were in favor of the Democratic Party in the 2016 election (Forbes 2020). These trends are expected to be reflected in the 2020 election and many exit polls showed this number as potentially even higher, especially among Black women.
This year’s election reveals the prevalent blue wave of Black voters in the Black Belt, a wave led by former minority leader of the Georgia house Stacey Abrams.
Stacey Abrams, born in Madison, WI, has rewritten the dialogue in Georgia. Abrams made national headlines running for governor in Georgia, ultimately losing to Brian Kemp, who won despite evidence of voter suppression. (Read more here) A majority of the votes in question were those of African-American voters: 70% of the votes in question compared to the 32% Black population in Georgia.
Abrams is responsible for the non-profit “The New Georgia Project”-- registering 800,000 voters since 2018. “45% of those new voters are under the age of 30. 49% are people of color,” Abrams told NPR. Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair, Ben Wikler tweeted about Stacey Abrams’ crucial work in flipping Wisconsin:
In Georgia, the percentage point change in non-Hispanic White share of each state’s eligible voters decreased 10% between 2000 and 2018 according to Pew Research. Stacey Abrams is largely behind the greatest increase seen in the nation of non-Hispanic Black voters by percentage - a 5% increase.
Between Abrams’ organizations New Georgia Project and Fair Fight, Abrams has made monumental strides in registering voters, especially Black youth voters, and pushed for fair elections throughout the state and nation. The results have been staggering–more than 800,000 new voter registrations in Georgia by the New Georgia Project and the potential of a blue Georgia in the 2020 presidential election.