The Georgia Senate runoff elections gained two new Democrat senators, and Latinos, despite being a small portion of the population in Georgia, had a lot to do with flipping the state.
Georgia just made history. Democrat Raphael Warnock won one of Georgia’s two Senate runoffs Wednesday, becoming the first Black senator in the state’s history, and The Associated Press called the race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Sen. David Perdue, declaring victory in favor of Ossoff with 50.8% of the votes, giving Democrats control of the Senate.
So how did Georgia flip during the presidential election with Joe Biden, and now with Warnock and Ossoff? The Peach State’s shift from Republican to Democrat was four years in the making.
Georgia Had a Surge of Latino Voters
While Latinos do not make up a large proportion of the Georgia population—they only account for 9%— that’s still 1 million Latinos that reside there. The community, however, is still growing. And as the Latino community began to grow, so did Latino organizations.
In 2015, Mijente launched in the wake of President Donald Trump’s target against Latinos and immigrants during his presidential run. The organization has worked diligently to keep Latinos engaged and civically aware of political issues—while also helping them financially through various fundraisers and campaigns during the pandemic crisis.
It was local organizations such as Mijente, GALEO, Latino Community Fund (LCF), Unidos Latino Association, and national ones like Voto Latino, Latino Victory, and the Hispanic Federation that produced a massive Latino voter turnout in 2020 and the Senate runoff elections.
Since 2016, Pew Research reports that Latino voter registration in Georgia increased by 18%. The Latino voter turnout was apparent during the primaries last summer, then during the presidential election, and now during the Senate runoff elections.
Mijente reports that since the presidential election, about eight weeks ago, they have contacted every Latino registered voter in the state.
“When the surprise runoff was announced, we put our heads down and hit the pavement, working with our partners GLAHR Action network to hire 200 organizers and recruit an army of hundreds of volunteers,” Mijente said in a statement. “In just 8 weeks, our team broke record after record. We knocked on 321,000 doors, made 276,000 phone calls, and sent 377,000 text messages to get our gente to the polls and build power for our community.”
Voto Latino also reports that they registered 35,813 voters in Georgia, of whom 64% were between the ages of 18 and 39, and 57% were women.
More Democrats Relocated to Georgia in Recent Years
The US Census Bureau reports that in 2019, Georgia was one of the top five states that had the most new residences and estimated that more than 50,000 people relocated from Florida, Texas, California, and New York. Many of those new residents are likely to be Democrats.
“We know that the strongest Republican voters are people who’ve been in Georgia more than 20 years,” Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia in Athens, told CNN. “Individuals who have been in Georgia less time are more likely to be Democratic.”
Latinos Voted Early
Before Tuesday’s elections, 79,782 Latinos had voted early in the runoffs, according to NBC News.
“This is the highest turnout there will ever be for Latinos in a runoff,” Bernard Fraga, an associate professor of politics at Emory University, told NBC News.
The Last Big Push
In the days after the presidential election, several Latino celebrities, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, América Ferrera, and Eva Longoria, hosted events in Georgia and virtually to urge Latinos to vote.
Former presidential candidate Julián Castro also canvassed for Warnock and Ossoff in Georgia and spoke to Latinos about the importance of getting the democrats in the Senate.
“In the years to come, the Latinos in Georgia are only going to play a bigger role in the direction of Georgia,” Castro said in an interview with The Americano. “In the state’s future, they are going to shape it in every single way possible, and that’s something to be very proud of. I look forward to seeing that unfold.”