More Democratic voters move to Georgia ahead of upcoming elections

Data indicates state has gained 13,500 more Democratic voters than Republican since 2020
A person is seen leaving the Gwinnett County Voter and Registration Elections on Feb. 19, 2024, the first day of early voting for the Georgia presidential primary. (Miguel Martinez/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

A person is seen leaving the Gwinnett County Voter and Registration Elections on Feb. 19, 2024, the first day of early voting for the Georgia presidential primary. (Miguel Martinez/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

As campaign efforts ramp up in Georgia ahead of a busy election season, candidates will need to court not only native Georgians, but also registered voters who have moved into the state since 2020, with Democrats apparently having an edge over Republicans.

Georgia gained about 13,500 more likely Democratic voters than Republican voters since the last presidential election, according to an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of voter registration data from L2, a political data vendor.

“I’m not surprised that they are disproportionately Democratic,” said Bernard Fraga, a political scientist at Emory University. He said the voters moving into Georgia mirror national trends of people leaving more Democratic-leaning states such as California and New York due to high costs of living.

Fraga said that since these voters were previously registered in another state before coming to Georgia, they are likely to vote in the upcoming election. “That might give Democrats a small advantage,” he said.

In the 2020 election, President Joe Biden won Georgia by just 11,779 votes, a 0.24 percentage point margin of victory. Fraga said that a small change in the mix of voters could swing this year’s election one way or the other, including shifts in voting preferences among existing Georgians.

Over the past three years, about 140,000 registered voters moved to Georgia, according to the analysis. When accounting for Georgia voters who moved away, the state had a net gain of about 30,000 voters. Roughly two out of every three of these new voters are likely Democrats, accounting for about 19,500 voters. About 6,000 of the new voters are likely Republican voters, while the remainder were not registered with a political party in their prior state or belonged to third parties.

While many states allow voters to register by party affiliation, Georgia does not.

For voters not registered with a political party, L2 estimates party affiliation using voter history and demographic data. The data does not track people moving to a new state and voting for the first time or people who could not be matched to their prior registrations. For example, those who did not complete a change-of-address form.

An additional 50,000 registered voters have moved to Georgia leading up to the 2024 election than during the same time period before the 2020 election, and more of the new arrivals appear to lean Democratic than compared with four years ago.

The AJC analysis found that the three states that sent the most voters to Georgia were Florida, California and New York in that order. While voters from Florida are evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, those from California and New York are more Democratic.

Jazmine Alexander moved from Florida to Georgia in September. While politics was not the only reason for her move, she did take it into consideration. “Republican versus Democrat in Atlanta, that was a plus,” she said, noting that Atlanta is more Democratic than her old home in Florida. She also noticed economic opportunities. “Atlanta is pretty open to business, free enterprise, so that was an allure,” she said.

Most of the incoming voters moved to metro Atlanta and other large cities such as Augusta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah.

“Atlanta continues to be the biggest metro gainer for Blacks,” said William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute who specializes in migration and political demographics. “There’s a Black middle-class population in Georgia that’s attractive to young people, especially if they’re younger with college degrees. … They see a place they can have success and a place where they can fit in with the middle-class Black population that’s essential to the core of the economy there.”

He said this movement of Black people to the South is due, in part, to a return migration that began in the 1970s, reversing decades of out-migration from the region.

Out of the registered voter data from L2, about 20% of voters who moved to Georgia since 2020 are self-reported Africans or African Americans. Self-reported white voters lead with 57%. Of the remaining voters, 5% are Hispanic, 4% Asian and 14% are other ethnicities or unknown.