ATLANTA — Georgians have done something they haven’t done in nearly three decades. They backed a Democrat for President of the United States.
Ten days after most polls closed Nov. 3, major media outlets projected Biden’s victory in the Peach State as county elections workers began the tall task of recounting the presidential race in all 159 counties by hand.
Biden won the state’s 16 electoral votes with a lead of more than 14,000 votes even after the campaign made a late appeal to Georgia voters that featured high-profile visits from Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Former President Barack Obama.
In supporting Biden, Georgia sided with a Democrat in the race for the White House for the first time since 1992. The slow but steady counting of Georgia ballots drew suspense as it became one of the last battlegrounds still in play. Biden made up the nearly 300,000 vote deficit he faced in Georgia on election night — relying heavily on mail-in ballot counts.
But the final call that Georgia flipped blue comes as the Trump campaign and Georgia Republicans have fiercely denounced the outcome.
The election process has led to intense scrutiny of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger by members of his own party. Both Georgia’s U.S. senators have called for his resignation while making baseless claims that the results are inaccurate and even tampered with.
Still, the state’s top elections official has stood by statements that his office has found no evidence of “widespread irregularities” and that the recount will likely only lead to a slight change in the vote margin.
Georgia became a nationally watched state as votes slowly came in from metro Atlanta counties that are Democrat strongholds. Trump won the state by 5 percentage points in 2016, but the changing political suburbs of Atlanta gave Biden the winning advantage.
An unexpected battleground, Republicans have had to go on defense in the presidential race and both U.S. Senate seats in play. Trump held multiple rallies in rural towns and courted Black voters in urban areas.
But as Democrats eyed an opening with increased enthusiasm since 2016, the national party made Georgia a target and rallied Democrats during the final weeks before Election Day.
Biden said it himself around 1 a.m., Nov. 4.
“We’re still in the game in Georgia,” he told supporters during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. “Although that’s not what we expected.”
In the early hours of Nov. 5, following a dump of votes from left-leaning Clayton County, Biden overtook Trump in the race by just over 1,000 votes. Until the last vote was counted, his lead grew slowly. Once all the military and overseas as well as provisional ballots were tallied, Biden led by more than 14,000 votes.
But the end to the presidential race doesn’t mean Georgia is out of the political spotlight just yet. The state’s two Jan. 5 U.S. Senate runoffs will decide which party holds the majority of the chamber in Washington, D.C.