After county elections officials counted and reported absentee ballots for Tuesday’s election, Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp led Democrat Stacey Abrams by 1.6 percent— more than 64,000 votes. As first reported by InsiderAdvantage when it called his victory late Tuesday night (the first media outlet to do so), Kemp’s margin is such that the number of provisional ballots and overseas ballots will not change his win or force a run-off election.
But aside from that big outcome, it is instructive to reflect on Democrat wins and GOP losses that will affect Peach State politics. One statistic that dominates all others is the divide between metro Atlanta (now consisting of 29 counties) and the rest of Georgia. Consider:
* Metro Atlanta— Kemp 43 percent, Abrams 56 percent, Libertarian Ted Metz 1 percent (roughly 318,000 vote margin for Abrams)
* Rest of Georgia– Kemp 61 percent, Abrams 38 percent, Metz 1 percent (roughly 381,000-vote margin for Kemp).
In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton won metro Atlanta by 8 points (52 Clinton, 44 Donald Trump) but lost the rest of Georgia by 24 points (61 Trump, 37 Clinton). Thus, there was hardly any difference in the Trump/Kemp numbers outside metro Atlanta (2016 and 2018) but Abrams improved notably in metro Atlanta over Clinton. Some sobering statistics for the GOP and good news for Democrats: * Cobb and Gwinnett both voted Democratic for governor for the first time since 1986. Abrams won Gwinnett by 14 points (a sign the multiracial county is moving steadily into the Democratic camp). In 2016, Clinton won the county by 6 points. The GOP lost 5 State House seats that are entirely or partially in the county (HD 95, 102, 105, 107 and 108).
* Kemp lost Fulton County, a reliably Democratic stronghold (it hasn’t voted GOP for governor since 1970) by a whopping 191,000 votes (in contrast, in 2014, Gov. Nathan Deal lost Fulton by a much smaller 76,000 votes)
* Kemp lost DeKalb County by 210,000 votes— the first time any Georgia county has delivered a margin of that size in a statewide contest.
* Loss of 9 State House seats and 2 in the State Senate.
* In 2014, Deal lost metro Atlanta by barely 5,000 votes, but Kemp lost it by a much wider margin. But some good news for GOP in metro Atlanta: Cherokee and Forsyth counties showed strong increases in vote totals between 2014. They are now the largest Republican vote turnout counties in the state. Cherokee’s vote totals increased by about 39,000 between 2014 and 2018, while Forsyth’s increased by about 37,000. Kemp won both counties by an approximately combined 88,000 votes– larger than his overall statewide margin over Abrams of about 64,000 votes.