National “blue wave” falls short in Georgia gubernatorial, US Senate races

Photo by Casey Gomez

As the 2018 midterm election results rolled in late Tuesday night, it became clear many historical victories had taken place.

The first Muslim women were elected to Congress — Democrat Rashida Tlaib from Michigan and Ilhan Omar of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party from Minnesota. Colorado Democrat Jared Polis became the first openly gay man to be elected governor. Tennessee elected its first female senator, Republican Marsha Blackburn. Kansas Democrat Sharice Davids and New Mexico Democrat Deb Haaland will be the first Native American women in the House of Representatives.

Eyes were on Congress during the election, with many voters wondering if the House and Senate would flip to become a Democratic majority. In the end, Democrats successfully gained control of the House, winning more than the required 218 seats, while Republicans maintained control of the Senate.

The predicted “blue wave” of historically Republican districts electing Democrats was examined post-election.

The New York Times reports that although more than 300 districts swung to the left, only 29 districts actually flipped from Republican to Democrat. Most of the districts that swung also happened to be in suburban areas, with urban areas remaining Democrat and rural areas remaining Republican.

Tuesday night also proved to be a historical win for women nationwide: for the first time ever, more than 100 women were elected to Congress.

Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams hoped to inspire her own blue wave in Georgia in a quest to become the nation’s first black female governor, but was only able to win 48.7 percent of the vote. Nonetheless, that number constitutes the largest percentage a Georgia Democrat has won in a gubernatorial election since Roy Barnes, the last Democratic governor, was elected in 1998.

With 50.3 percent of the vote, Brian Kemp won the majority of the vote, backed by rural white voters. Abrams was more successful in counties in or surrounding urban areas, such as Atlanta, Savannah, Columbus, Macon and Augusta. Libertarian Ted Metz won 0.9 percent of the vote.

As of Nov. 8, Abrams has not conceded, hoping for a runoff in the case no candidate receives a majority. Her campaign has stated that many absentee and mail-in ballots have not been counted, and could  split the vote further, prompting a runoff.

According to Time Magazine, Kemp’s spokesperson in the secretary of state office says that less than 2,000 absentee ballots remain uncounted. However, about 22,000 provisional ballots still need to be counted.

Kemp’s campaign declared victory on Wednesday, stating that there are not enough uncounted ballots to mandate a runoff.

Kemp has been accused of voter suppression in the past, and critics accuse him of suppressing democratic voters in several districts. Precincts in Fulton and Gwinnett counties also suffered technical difficulties, including long lines and faulty voting machines, inhibiting some voters.

If a runoff does occur, it will happen on Dec. 4. Should Abrams win the potential runoff, she would become the nation’s first black female governor.

The sixth congressional district in Georgia, encompassing Cobb and North Fulton counties was also closely watched throughout this election, where Democrat Lucy McBath challenged sitting Republican Karen Handel. McBath ran on a gun control reform platform after losing her son to gun violence, and has declared victory, flipping a historically Republican district to Democratic. Because the margin is less than one percent, Handel refuses to concede, calling for a recount.

Other Georgia districts tended to follow historical trends, except for a narrow race in the seventh congressional district where incumbent Republican Rob
Woodall cinched the majority.