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Georgia Redistricting Reduces Number of Competitive Elections

Out of the 236 races for the state’s General Assembly that occurred last year, just five of them had competitors’ final tallies within seven percentage points. Eighteen district races were competitive the year prior.

(TNS) — Just five out of 236 races for the Georgia General Assembly were competitive in last year’s elections after legislators redrew their districts, according to an analysis by Fair Districts GA, a redistricting advocacy group.

In every other race, the winners defeated their opponents by at least 7 percentage points.

The lack of close contests shows how redistricting led to fewer choices for voters and a more politically polarized map drawn by the Republican-controlled General Assembly, Fair Districts GA Chairman Ken Lawler said.

As a result, Republicans solidified their majorities over Democrats: 101-89 in the state House and 33-23 in the state Senate.

The Republican Party also gained a seat in Congress by reshaping a district north of Atlanta so that it included more conservative areas. Republican U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick won that district, giving the GOP a 9-5 majority in the state’s congressional delegation.

“Redistricting had a huge effect on the election,” Lawler said. “The maps were drawn to make safe seats for Republicans and Democrats. More competitive districts would have required candidates to appeal more to the center.”

Politically neutral maps would have resulted in representation that more closely reflects the composition of such a evenly divided state, according to data by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, which used computer models to evaluate versions of Georgia’s legislative districts.

According to Princeton’s analysis, a more fair redistricting process would have resulted in a smaller Republican majority, with about 95 Republican seats in the House and 30 in the Senate. Republicans outperformed those outcomes by nine seats, largely through drawing favorable districts.

The five competitive seats in Georgia were all in metro Atlanta’s rapidly changing suburbs. Those districts were won by Rep. Jasmine Clark, a Democrat from Lilburn; Rep. Lauren Daniel, a Republican from Locust Grove; Sen. Nabilah Islam, a Democrat from Lawrenceville; Rep. Farooq Mughal, a Democrat from Dacula; and Rep. Deborah Silcox, a Republican from Sandy Springs.

There was more competition in recent elections before redistricting, which occurs once every decade to account for population changes and ensure districts are equal sizes. Georgia’s population grew by about 1 million people between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. census.

Twenty-one legislative districts had competitive races in 2018, and 18 districts were within 7 percentage points in 2020, according to Fair Districts GA.

©2023 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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