Swing state analysis: Top issues for Georgia voters in the 2024 presidential election

Georgia has been a fairly reliable Republican state during each presidential election cycle in recent history, but 2020 showed the state can swing from red to blue. 

This year, it appears President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will have a rematch and currently, polls suggest Georgia is leaning red and experts say if the state were to vote today, Trump would win. 

The Peach State is one of several states in the spotlight during this year’s presidential election, playing a pivotal role in who will become America’s next commander in chief. 

Georgia fast facts

  • Active registered voters: Over 7 million
  • Inactive registered voters: 940,191
  • Registered Democrats: Not tracked
  • Registered Republicans: Not tracked
  • Governor: Brian Kemp (R)
  • Electoral College votes: 16 (out of 270 needed to win)

How Georgia voted in 2020

Georgia voted Democrat in 2020, the first time since 1992 when Bill Clinton ran for president. 

Biden won, but by a very slim margin of 12,670 votes, or 0.25% of the roughly 5 million ballots cast. 

How Georgia voted in 2016

Georgia voted for Trump in 2016. 

Hillary Clinton lost to Trump by a margin of a little over 5%, according to the Georgia Election Results website.

File: Aerial view of Atlanta skyline, Georgia. (Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Top issues for Georgia voters in 2024

There are a plethora of issues at the top of Georgians’ minds ahead of the upcoming elections, but none more so than inflation, according to experts. 

In addition to immigration, preserving democracy, health care and education, the consumer price index is having a very noticeable and direct impact on Georgia residents. 

"For two years it's been very consistently at the top of Georgians’ minds. It is something that is driving a lot of the movement away from Biden and including from many of those people who voted for him in 2020, a sense that their lives aren't as good as they were four years ago, pre-COVID, that things are tight and and the incumbent gets the blame for that," explained Brian Robinson, former spokesperson for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and president of Robinson Republic Communications.  

If inflation continues to "glide" and slowly improves as the U.S. proceeds to November, constituents could be swayed to vote blue once more.

"It does look like we've avoided the recession that seemed to be looming, that we have had the soft landing, as they say. That's good news for Joe Biden. But despite the fact that the market's really high, the fact that the macroeconomic data is very promising and by all indications, we're doing much better than the Europeans or the Chinese. Americans don't have good vibes about the economy. And those vibes matter more than the macroeconomic data and that they feel in October of 24, like they did in October of 23, Donald Trump is going to land in Georgia," Robinson posited.  

Issue: Inflation

What Biden has said

Biden inherited an economy that was riddled with uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a bottlenecked supply chain. 

Since signing an aid package that cost trillions, inflation scrambled upward with the consumer price index skyrocketing to a four-decade high in 2022. 

But Biden has touted that inflation has slowly declined due to choices made by his administration and job growth has flourished. 

"I know many families are struggling, and that even though we’ve made progress we have a lot more to do. Inflation has fallen more than 60% from its peak, and core inflation fell to its lowest level in three years," Biden said after the April consumer price index report showed a 0.3% increase, slightly lower than what economists expected. 

"Prices are still too high — so my agenda will give families breathing room by building two million new homes to lower housing costs, taking on Big Pharma to lower prescription drug prices, and calling on grocery chains making record profits to lower grocery prices for consumers." 

FILE - US President Joe Biden speaks to supporters and volunteers during a campaign event at Mary Mac's Tea Room in Atlanta, Georgia on May 18, 2024. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

What Trump has said

Former President Donald Trump has told supporters that the inflation under Biden is how "countries die" and that Trump’s return to the White House would mean lower energy costs. 

Trump has also taken to his social media platform, Truth Social, to air his grievances about Biden’s handling of the current economy, blaming the president for making it harder for young Americans to afford rent or make car payments. 

"One of the most vicious effects of the Biden Inflation Tax is how Crooked Joe has made it impossible for millions of Americans, especially YOUNG Americans, to buy a home, a car, or even make rent," Trump said, according to a report from The Hill. "High inflation means high prices, high interest rates, high mortgage rates, and death for the American Dream." 

Issue: Preserving democracy

What Biden has said

Biden has made protecting America’s democracy a cornerstone not just during his current campaign but all throughout his campaign and his presidency, especially following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol in 2021. 

What Trump has said

Trump continues to undermine the 2020 presidential election, calling those who have been convicted and imprisoned for the Jan. 6 riot as "unbelievable patriots." 

Having previously vowed to pardon the rioters, he promised to help them "the first day we get into office." 

Trump denies any role in the run-up to the deadly siege and is asking voters to absolve hundreds – as well as himself – over the deadliest attack on a seat of American power in 200 years. 

Trump’s role on Jan. 6 could have a direct impact on the vote in Georgia, and vice-versa. Currently, Trump is engrossed in several criminal cases, including one out of Fulton County, Georgia. 

Trump and 18 others are charged with multiple criminal counts for allegedly participating in a scheme to illegally try to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. The trial date is still pending. 

RELATED: Trump's Georgia case: Will guilty verdict in NYC impact Georgia case?

It’s unlikely that the case will be resolved before the election, and experts are torn on whether a conviction in the Georgia election case – or any of Trump’s criminal cases – would make a difference to voters in the fall anyway.

In a poll conducted after his conviction in New York, about 6 in 10 U.S. adults have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, which is in line with findings from an AP-NORC poll conducted in February. Four in 10 have a favorable view of Trump, also largely unchanged since February. 

"He was able to turn indictments to his advantage every time he got indicted," Charles Bullock, a distinguished professor of public and international affairs at the University of Georgia, told FOX TV Stations. "He raised tons of money. The polling suggests that the conviction doesn't impact the MAGA voters. No." 

Bullock suggested that there are some Republican constituents who are not fully committed to supporting Trump should he get convicted and could be persuaded to vote for someone else. 

The timing of all of Trump’s criminal cases will likely impact how voters decide on Election Day, but experts are not 100% sure one way or another. 

"It’s a gray area here (Georgia)," Robinson said. "It's going to drag on. We're not going to learn anything between here and November." 

RELATED: Trump’s other criminal cases and where they stand after NYC conviction 

Issue: Immigration

What Biden has said

Biden sought to spotlight the necessity of a bipartisan border security bill that was tanked by Republicans on Trump’s orders, and flat-out asked the Republican front-runner to join him in supporting a congressional push for more funding and tighter restrictions. 

During a visit to the Rio Grande Valley city of Brownsville in February, Biden said, "I want the American people to know what we’re trying to get done," Biden said. "We can’t afford not to do this." 

Recent efforts by the Biden administration include some changes to the asylum system meant to speed up processing and potentially removing certain migrants, but some experts say it may be too little, too late. 

"You can't come in three years later and say, I'm tough on border security," Robinson said. 

"So these illegal immigrants do pose a burden on communities. There is a backlash to it. And the visuals that we've seen out of New York City, out of Denver or Chicago, those things are toxic. And Biden can now act like he's serious about illegal immigration and border security, but it's not going to sell," Robinson added. 

What Trump has said

FILE - Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives at the Atlanta Airport on April 10, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Trump has often declared that the migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border were criminals and some were terrorists, which are basically dialed-up versions of accusations he often used during his 2016 presidential campaign. 

The former president has also accused migrants of "poisoning the blood of the country" and vowed to launch the largest domestic deportation operation in the nation’s history if he wins a second term. 

Even though Georgia is not in the thick of the border security crisis, Republicans will play up on that issue to appeal to their constituents, according to Bullock. 

"Our governor has made several trips and met with Governor Abbott in Texas and gone down to the border. So clearly he's played upon that. And that's gotten obviously some attention. And lots of communities in Georgia, you're seeing far more diversity. If you go back 50, 60 years ago, Georgia, you're either Black or White, there are no Hispanics or no Asians. And now, you know, wherever you are, you're going to see at least some trace, even rural towns. So, you know, these are changes and  people are aware of this. Is it a situation where services are being overrun, like, say, and and on the border. But even in cities like Chicago, in New York, where many immigrants have been bused there, that's not been happening in Atlanta," Bullock said. 

"Indeed, some of the major industries in Georgia rely very heavily upon recent immigrants, the chicken industry in Gainesville or the carpet industry up in Dalton, very much depended upon recent arrivals in this country for the labor there. So, is it a situation where people are confronting or having to compete with immigrants for job? No, I don't think so. Is it a situation where they're looking at their school system or their social service and saying, we're being overwhelmed by recent immigrants? That doesn’t seem to be a problem either. But, if you are going to pay any attention at all to kind of the political messages, then yeah, immigration is one of the main things which Republicans are stressing. And therefore, if you're a Republican, you say, ‘Yeah, that's a problem, even though it may not be affecting me directly,’" Bullock added. 

Black voters are crucial for both parties

Experts say that if Democrats want to replicate the results of the 2020 election in Georgia, they’ll need to appeal to their core constituency and a coalition that is usually very loyal to the Democratic party: Black voters. 

"Usually that vote has been approximately 90% Democratic, a bit higher among Black women than among Black men," said Bullock. 

But this year, it appears Trump is faring slightly better among Black voters in Georgia than what was seen in the last presidential election, Robinson claimed. 

"We've never seen that historically. It would be a real anomaly. Or you might see it as a real breakthrough for Republicans if he (Trump) were able to get past that threshold. But until I see it, I'm not sure I will believe it. I do think that he will perform historically high with Black voters," Robinson said. 

A survey conducted by Pew Research in May showed that while Black voters across the country appear to continue to show loyalty to the Democratic party, the margin is not nearly as wide as it was four years ago. 

"That said, if Trump did get those numbers, he would win. If he gets 15% or more of the Black vote, this thing is signed, sealed and delivered for Trump," Robinson added. 

Wild card: Voter turnout

Voter turnout may be a threat specifically for Democrats since one of their core constituents are losing interest or faith in Biden, of whom they voted for last term. 

Gen Z and Black voters, two of the Democratic party’s "bread and butter," are lacking the same enthusiasm they had in 2020, experts said. But it’s not just those groups of constituents, according to Robinson, it’s true across the board. 

"Some White Gen Z voters are not enamored with Joe Biden," Robinson claimed. "So I think, generationally, young voters are a problem. I think we’ll have strong turnout among older generations and the Republicans are going to have an advantage with those in Georgia." 

Wild card: Trump ties

Georgia may be leaning red, but it is not entirely because of Trump.

Georgia is a 30/30 state and what that means is that to win the state, whether as a Republican or Democratic presidential candidate, you’ll need to win 30% of Black votes and 30% of White votes to get a shot at all 16 electoral college votes, according to Bullock.   

This has been done, as shown during the 2020 election which swung the state to blue.  

Another distinguished demographic of voters in Georgia who can influence the swing are college-educated White voters who consider themselves Republicans. This group of voters will very likely consider a Democratic candidate when necessary, Bullock said.  

These voters would elect a conservative governor like Georgia’s current governor, Brian Kemp, but couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Republican Herschel Walker in 2022. 

"So they make a distinction," Bullock said. "And what looks like the distinguishing feature is: Is that Republican Donald Trump or someone closely associated with Donald Trump?"

"So, yes, Biden wins the state by fewer than 12,000 votes. But then in those three Senate elections, two by Warnock and one by Ossoff, in each of those instances, the Republican who is confronting them is very, very closely associated with Donald Trump," Bullock explained.

However, in 2022, several Republican candidates were elected to state offices but they distanced themselves from Trump during their campaigns.  

"Our governor, Brian Kemp, and our secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, had quite a distance between themselves and Trump. Indeed, Trump tried to defeat them in the Republican primary. And so that actually probably helped them in the general election, is that, again, these voters can look at it and say, ‘Yeah, even though Donald Trump says bad things about Kemp and Raffensperger, I, as a Georgia voter, have better information. I live in the state. I see how they performed, and I believe Donald Trump won many things, but not when he trashes my governor, because I think my governor has done a good job," Bullock said. 

2024 swing states: Read more

This story was reported from Los Angeles.