When I am not sitting behind the desk in my classroom, I am constantly staring at data for local candidates in an effort to better reach voters. Over the last 12 years, I have worked on more than 10 local campaigns (both sides of the aisle) and had the pleasure of being a campaign manager on several races in Fayette County. In all that time, the numbers have become my friends, for better or worse.
The results from last week’s General Primary Election are fascinating because they illustrate a growing trend in local politics, the Blue Wave. Whether this national phenomenon is a hope or hypothesis, it would seem that there is an amazing political shift happening in Fayette County.
Just following the trend in primary elections for the last six years reveals a significant shift in the number of ballots requested for Democrats.
Of the contested elections in 2012, Fayette County Republicans cast more than 10,000 votes than Democrats, who only saw 20 percent of the ballots selected. Two years later in the last gubernatorial race, the numbers were not those much different, usually around 24 percent of the ballots.
The shift for Democrats in our area started in early 2016 when 29 percent of the ballots selected in the Presidential Primary were blue and 38 percent of the votes in the coinciding election were cast for a Democratic candidate.
The numbers from the Primary show the exact same trend. A solid 40 percent of all ballots selected in Fayette County were for Democrats. That is double the percentage of ballots in six years, a total of 3,708 votes in a county were high contested races are decided by a handful of votes.
It is obvious that a Blue Wave is coming, but it is not sure if that wave will hit land this election or the next. Ultimately, there are several contributing factors that could see Fayette turn Blue this November.
• There are Democratic Candidates on the ballot. This might seem like a non-brainer, but of the first time in the history of the county, there is a Democrat running in almost every race, and two running for two Georgia Representative seats and the US Congress Seat. In the past, some voters chose to select a Republican Ballot just to have a voice in local politics.
• The Democrats are organized like they have never been before. Under the direction of local leaders like Ernie Broadwell, Leonard Presberg, Virgil Fludd, and many others, the Democrats have developed a highly unified group of voters to call their own. This most obvious by the increasing number of local officials that have a (D) by their name.
• Republicans are not as responsive to their constituents. The race that this effect most is the upcoming faceoff in District 16 between Marty Harbin and Bill Lightle. In the last few years, Harbin has managed to alienate the movie industry, punish Delta Airlines, hinder legitimate families in the adoption process, demean police officers, legislate the use of Christianity as a means to discriminate against others, and prevent a mother from seeking a medical solution for her child’s harmful situation. How does any of that represent Fayette County?
In all fairness, a Blue Wave just might be what our county needs. I believe in the “Marketplace of Ideas”, where competing voices are necessary to arrive at a just and fair decision. Democrats aren’t here to steal your guns and raise taxes, they are just like all of us; they want to see our community thrive and grow and build a safe place where all of our voices can be heard.