ATLANTA – President Donald Trump came to the north Georgia mountains Monday night to gin up turnout in conservative strongholds and stave off the Democratic challengers who threatened the GOP’s Senate majority in two runoff elections.
It didn't work.
The Republicans' overwhelmingly white, older and rural and exurban coalition failed the GOP Senate candidates in Tuesday's high-stakes elections, while Democrats proved their alliance that succeeded in defeating Donald Trump in the state in November was not a fluke.
Black and young voters, suburbanites and the many recent arrivals to the state showed up a second time in two months to back Democrats, handing Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock narrow victories over Republicans David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
Across Georgia, a fast-growing, diversifying Deep South state, Tuesday's election returns told the same story: Record runoff turnout -- more than 4.4 million -- didn’t match the 5 million ballots cast in November, but Democrats consistently came closer than their rivals to replicating their November vote totals, even in the large towns where Trump rallied.
It was true in north Georgia's Whitfield County, Trump territory, where Perdue and Loeffler got 89% of the votes that Perdue won in the general election, when he led all Senate candidates in the first round of voting. That would be an impressive showing in most runoffs, which almost invariably see a turnout drop. But Ossoff and Warnock managed slightly more than 90% of their November totals.
And it was true across the Atlanta suburbs, both the northern, whiter enclaves that have for two decades assured statewide victories for Republicans and the southern ring of communities where Black voters tilt the ledger to Democrats. Democrats also outperformed Republicans in metro Atlanta, the center of an ever-expanding footprint that has remade the Georgia economy and, now, its politics.
Behind the Democrats' victories — two months after Biden became the first Democrat since 1992 to win the state’s presidential electoral votes — are a mix of factors: The double runoffs and their national consequences brought bottomless resources to a party infrastructure that had been expanding for years.