4 Big Reasons Why the GOP Should Worry About Georgia’s Next Governor

Gerrymandering—the practice of “cracking,” where opposition members are spread out over many districts, and “packing,” where the opposition is clustered into a few districts—is a bitter political move used by both sides. In 2012, some members of the GOP openly used these measures to take control of the House of Representatives. Should Democrats take control of the governor’s office in Georgia, they stand a good chance of being able to redistrict the state in their favor.

3. A Functional ACA May Curtail Criticism

When the Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare) was passed, several hospital subsidies were dropped or repositioned—including subsidies to hospitals the uninsured were likely to visit. The intention was for expansions to Medicaid to pick up the slack. So when Gov. Deal refused to expand Medicaid, it meant huge cuts to 61 Georgia hospitals—mainly in rural areas, where more Georgia Republicans reside.

A Democrat at the helm could bring back the much-needed Medicaid funds for rural hospitals, as Carter has already promised he would do as governor. It could also keep alive several thousand jobs in areas that sorely need them. At 8.1 percent, Georgia’s unemployment rate sits two points higher than the national average—a brutal blow to Deal’s campaign. Accepting the Medicaid expansion, though frowned upon by those wishing to curb the influx of federal funds, might give Georgia’s economy the boost it needs. And if surrounding red states see the upswing, what’s to keep them from following suit?             

4. A Blue Win Could Bring a “Southern Spring”

As a cultural and transportation hub for the South, Georgia has a lot of regional sway. The gerrymandering of 2012 was not unique to Georgia, but hit several Southern states hard: North Carolina in particular, but also Virginia and Florida. North Carolina split nearly down the middle in House votes statewide (51 percent Democrat, 49 Republican), but the district make-up of the state led to six Republicans and three Democrats being sent to the U.S. House of Representatives. A major, visible win for Democrats in Georgia could push Dems in surrounding states to try for the same.

It is no secret that the hyperpolarized Congress is going all-out to put party over policy. Yet time and again we hear frustration from voters who call for more moderate candidates who will move past party politics. In a September New York Times/CBS poll, 87 percent of respondents wanted “new people” in Congress.

It may be true that a strong blue Georgia is not just around the corner, but a growing blue base could turn the South purple soon enough. And Georgia’s next governor might be the first hit of many.