Tanzina: In Georgia, ballots are still being counted and the race for president is still too close to be called but the gap between President Trump and Joe Biden is narrowing. They're also two Senate races in the state to watch, the race between Democrat, Jon Ossoff and incumbent David Perdue is still being tallied and could move towards a runoff vote. Meanwhile, Democrat, Raphael Warnock, and incumbent Kelly Loeffler are already headed to a runoff after neither reached the 50% threshold. Tia Mitchell is joining me now. She's the Washington correspondent with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Tia, always great to have on.
Tia: Thanks for having me again.
Tanzina: Tia, Stacey Abrams really made this a voting issue her key issue back in 2018. Was her coalition able to galvanize enough voters for the 2020 election?
Tia: I think Stacey Abrams gets credit on two fronts. Number one, as you mentioned, over the past two years, she's built up organizations that have focused on ensuring voter access, ensuring all ballots are counted, and also engaging voters, but perhaps even more important in Georgia is that when she ran for governor in 2018, she also focused on building a statewide ground game and trying to ensure that she got every possible vote in every crevice of the state that she could. I think that even more so it's paid off because yes, we know Atlanta and its suburbs and cities like Savannah are true blue and rural Georgia is pretty red, but what Stacey Abrams did, it said, we can compete statewide.
Tanzina: Now, curiously, I'm wondering whether or not that you said that Atlanta has turned blue, has that always been the case, or was that a lot of that having to do with efforts to get more people registered and out to the polls?
Tia: Atlanta spans two counties, Fulton and DeKalb County. Those counties have been solid blue for quite a while, but right outside of those counties, the suburban counties, like Gwinnett County, Cobb County, those were red until recently and I'm talking about the past four years. Some of it is again, engaging young voters, engaging voters of color, but some of it is just simply the demographics of those suburbs are changing.
More people of color are moving into the state and into some of those suburban counties where cost of living is cheaper and things like that. For example, in Gwinnett County is one of the largest centers of Asian American population in America. There's a very big Asian American population in Gwinnett County, Georgia. There's also a Latino population in Gwinnett County. Those voters are supporting democratic candidates. In Gwinnett County, it's not just the presidential election. There are local races in Gwinnett County that have flipped from Republican to Democrat this year.
Tanzina: Georgia election officials are still counting ballots. How many remaining ballots are there to count and are there enough people to do the counting?
Tia: As of this morning, the secretary of state said there were 50,000 to 60,000 ballots that needed to be counted and the margin separating Joe Biden from Donald Trump who's currently ahead, is about 18,000 votes. Because those mail-in ballots that are being counted are skewing towards Democrats, that's why there is a chance that Joe Biden can overtake Donald Trump as those remaining ballots are counted. Those are happening in various counties, but most of the counties that still are counting ballots are the more populous counties that lean Democrat, but they say they have enough votes. They do say they have enough workers.
Tanzina: Okay. They have enough workers. They're still ballots being counted. The question I have for you is, we've been seeing in other cities across the country including Detroit and in Maricopa County as well, that there are folks who are Trump supporters who are showing up to prevent the vote from being counted. Are you seeing similar protests happening in Georgia?
Tia: As of right now, no. One of the reasons is because the ballot counting is happening in several counties still. There's not one place that you can congregate, it would be spread out amongst different counties. However, I think there is a chance that as Trump supporters see his posts on social media and see some of the protests in other states, could they decide to get engaged in Georgia? Possibly, but so far that has not happened. People are saying, let's ensure all votes are counted and they're leaving those poll workers to do just that.
Tanzina: Tia, we've got about two minutes left. I want to make sure that the Senate so far has not flipped for the Democrats and there are two Senate races happening in Georgia. What do you think? I know we can't predict anything, but is there a sense of who could take either one of those races? Would it be a Democrat, a Republican, or is it still too early to tell?
Tia: One of our Senate races is already going to a runoff between Reverend Raphael Warnock and US Senator Kelly Loeffler. Right now, the Perdue-Ossoff race, David Perdue, the incumbent Senator is right above 50% but if he falls below 50%, that race will also go to a runoff, which means if Biden wins the presidency, those two Georgia Senate seats could be the difference between a democratic majority in the Senate. The thing is it's hard. Democrats have not been successful in runoffs in Georgia for a lot of reasons.
Democratic voters tend to be your newer voters, the more unlikely voters. It's hard to get voters to turn up again in a month, to turn out again, and say, "Come back to the polls." Also, with just one or two races on the ballot, it's hard to get people motivated to do what they need to do but we know that what'll negate that a little bit is there will be so much attention on Georgia, so much money that there will be a lot of voter interest.
I think Republicans feel good about their chances in a runoff, but especially if both Senate races are on the ballot and all eyes are on Georgia, Democrats, again, we'll be very fired up if it means that they could possibly gain control of the Senate.
Tanzina: We'll be watching Tia Mitchell, Washington correspondent with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Thanks, so much for joining us.
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