As the 2022 midterms draw ever closer, speculation of how much of a red wave the GOP can pull off. One blue district in South Georgia could be an indication of how much progress Republicans are making — or how much trouble the Democrats are in.
Georgia’s 2nd district is tucked in the southwestern corner of the state and spreads upward to Columbus and Macon in the middle of the state. There are a few notable cities and towns there, but it’s a largely rural area.
The district is 49% black after the latest redistricting, but the most notable feature of GA-2 is that its population has voted solely for Democrats to the House since 1875. The 2nd district elected a member of the GOP to the House at the tail end of Reconstruction and has almost always voted for Democrats since the beginning of the Democratic Party as we know it.
Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) has represented the 2nd district for 30 years, and so far the closest he has come to losing to a Republican was in 2010 when he took 51.44% of the vote. But the tide might be turning. After the primaries, I wrote about the district, “It may take a miracle for West to defeat Bishop in November, but most of the predictions only show this district as “leans Democrat” or “likely Democrat,” while RealClearPolitics calls it a tossup district.”
Just last week, the Associated Press called this contest the “Deep South’s only competitive U.S. House race.”
“West and Bishop are rarities in the Deep South: candidates for a congressional race that is even marginally competitive,” reports the AP’s Jeff Amy. Though Georgia has emerged as one of the nation’s most politically consequential states for statewide contests, House races here are often an afterthought this year, a reflection of how the latest round of redistricting drained the U.S. of districts where both parties had a chance.”
And now, polling has attorney Chris West, the GOP candidate, within the margin of error yet still trailing Bishop by a razor-thin margin.
— InsiderAdvantage Polling (@InsiderPolling) October 20, 2022
Insider Advantage conducted its poll of 550 likely voters in the district on Monday of this week, and the crosstabs reveal some interesting facts. West leads with voters under 40, men, white voters, and (naturally) Republicans. But independent voters are breaking his way, and he only trails Bishop by 10 points with women. Remarkably, nearly 10% of voters are still undecided, which means West still has an opportunity to gain even more ground.
Another poll from earlier this week, this one from the Trafalgar Group, shows how tight this race is.
— The Trafalgar Group (@trafalgar_group) October 17, 2022
RealClearPolitics still lists this race as a toss-up, and that’s with only these two polls to go on.
“This poll shows what we’ve been feeling on the ground for the past two months—this race is razor close and the voters of GA-02 are ready to retire 30-year career politician Sanford Bishop,” West’s campaign said in a Facebook post referring to the Trafalgar poll. “We have the momentum—and we’re going to win this race!”
Obviously, West is using the economic problems that have plagued the nation (and GA-2 in particular) to his advantage.
“Sanford has represented this district for 30 years now. And we have been in the top 10 poorest congressional districts for the last 30 years,” West said at a recent campaign event. “And out of 435 districts around the country, why should Georgia 2 have to be in the top 10? It shouldn’t be.”
Can Chris West pull it off in GA-2? It certainly looks possible, and the fact that a Republican is this close in a district that has been so solidly blue for so many decades tells us a lot about how Americans are souring on Democrats and their policies.