Georgia’s historic blue flip

Stacey Abrams' efforts to combat voter suppression in Georgia helped the state pull for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in almost 30 years.

In a late comeback, comparable to an NBA fourth quarter rally, a flip in the state of Georgia allows former Vice President Joe Biden to make yet another strong push towards the 270 mark. Georgia hasn’t voted blue in almost 30 years, dating back to 1992, when the state voted for Democratic candidate Bill Clinton. There’s one woman to thank for the assist, and her name is Stacey Abrams.

Stacey Abrams is an American politician, lawyer, voting rights activist and author who served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007-2017.

Abrams received a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies (political science, economics and sociology) from Spelman College and has dedicated her political career to working tirelessly to register voters and decrease voter suppression.

All eyes were on Abrams in 2018 when she barely lost the Georgia governor’s race to Republican Brian Kemp, a race that would have made her the nation’s first Black female governor.

After her loss, Abrams told Vogue, “I sat shiva for 10 days. Then I started plotting.” Her plotting led her to found Fair Fight, an organization focused on addressing voter suppression.

Abrams' efforts in founding the New Georgia Project, as well as Fair Fight, prompted thousands to register to vote by fighting regulations like “exact match” rules which can be used to disqualify ballots for typos and minor errors.

“I will say, of those numbers, what we are excited about is that 45% of those new voters are under the age of 30,” Abrams said in an NPR interview on Nov. 2. She also added that 49% of these voters are people of color and that the registration of the 800,000 new voters came after November 2018, which meant that these voters weren’t eligible to vote for her but could participate in the general election.

Abrams' influence reached even farther than just Texas and Georgia, the two states Fair Fight focuses on. Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler tweeted out praise for Abrams' help in the state, which saw a similar overtime flip from red to blue like Georgia and neighboring state Michigan.

Despite razor-thin margins and historical trends, some Georgians had hope for Democratic allegiance this election. USC sophomore and Georgia native Lauren Nash said, “I feel like Georgia could be a blue state and, of course, it was proven today with it flipping blue.”

The importance of voting in her state was demonstrated by election results.

"I knew that I definitely had to vote, " Nash said. “Georgia is super important because it could flip either way and I was really excited for it to flip blue and I am happy to be a part of that.”

Georgia ended up being a crucial part in this election with 16 electoral votes up for grabs. The last few hectic days of uncertainty have demonstrated the importance of voter turnout that Abrams has always stressed.

“Stacey Abrams had the foresight to see the demographic changes, and so she started to create the organizational infrastructure that would actually put the Democrats in place to be able to move to identify, register and mobilize new voters,” Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta, told ABC News.

Abrams' foresight was laid out into a plan entitled “The Abrams Playbook.” Published on Sept. 9, 2019, the playbook highlights Georgia and the pivotal role she knew it would play in 2020. The plan concluded with five points for victory:  Contemporary research and analysis, starting early and sustaining infrastructure, communicating values rather than pandering to stereotypes, investing aggressively and seizing the momentum.

Her plan laid the groundwork for Democratic victory in Georgia. The late civil rights leader John Lewis can also share the credit as “yard signs showing images of Lewis, and quoting his statements about the importance of voting,” lined the streets in Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, according to a CNN.