ATLANTA — Joe Biden has won Georgia, scoring a rare win in a Southern state that hadn’t backed a Democrat for president in nearly 30 years.
The Associated Press called Biden the winner of Georgia’s 16 electoral votes Thursday after election officials released results of a hand-counted audit of the state’s roughly 5 million votes. The close contest between Biden and Republican President Donald Trump made Georgia the last U.S. state to be called in the 2020 presidential election.
The AP had already declared Biden president-elect after he clinched the 270 electoral votes needed to win. Georgia raised the Democrat’s electoral vote total to 306.
Like other battleground states, Georgia’s counting of thousands of absentee ballots and in-person votes cast early stretched long past Election Day. The unofficial results showed Biden ahead by 0.3 percentage points. Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger last week ordered an audit.
The second tally turned up a few thousand ballots that had previously been uncounted — enough to narrow Biden’s lead but not change the outcome.
Trump and his allies claimed without evidence that Georgia’s election was tainted by widespread fraud, sparking infighting among Republicans as Raffensperger insisted the vote was fair and secure.
Not since Bill Clinton first sought the White House in 1992 had Georgia sided with a Democratic presidential candidate.
Despite Democrats’ long losing streak, many analysts predicted Georgia would prove to be a 2020 battleground. That’s largely because a growing number of non-white voters have loosened Republicans’ grip on the Atlanta suburbs.
Georgia’s embrace of Biden marked a stark political reversal from 2016, when Trump carried the state by 5 percentage points.
Four years ago, Trump was able to coast to victory in Georgia over Democrat Hillary Clinton without having to campaign in the state. Not so in 2020, when the potential for a Democratic upset forced Trump to play defense in Georgia heading into the campaign’s final leg.
Trump held a large rally in Rome, Georgia, the weekend before Election Day, making a return trip to the state not even three weeks after he campaigned in Macon.
Biden traveled in the campaign’s final week to Warm Springs, where President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought treatment for polio. Former President Barack Obama stumped for Biden in Atlanta the day before Election Day.
Both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats ended up on the ballot in 2020, further boosting the state’s political profile. Tight races forced both Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler into runoff elections with Democratic challengers that will be decided Jan. 5.