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Reverse migration beginning to have political impact

23 November 20180 comments

A great ‘reverse migration’ of African Americans to the US south from the north was partly responsible for the US mid-term election results, which have seen the Democrats take back control of the House of Representatives.

Reverse migration references one of the largest and most rapid mass internal movements in history a hundred years ago, when six million African-Americans began to move north within their own country in an effort to seek safety.

What is now known as the ‘Great Migration’ started in 1916 and ended in the 1970s after millions of African-American’s moved from the rural southern United States to the urban Northeast, Midwest, and West.

But African-Americans moving back to the south has resulted in Democratic Party gains in the southern states.

Gubernatorial and Senate elections in Florida and Georgia were much closer than predicted because of a much larger than expected black vote.

For weeks the result of the race to become governor of Georgia was in the balance.

Eventually, Republican candidate Brian Kemp declared victory over African-American Democrat candidate Stacey Abrams but the margin was paper thin.

The influx of African Americans has effectively turned historically Republican parts of Georgia’s state capital, Atlanta, from red to Democrat blue.

One key area is Gwinnett County on the outskirts of Atlanta, where many black people have moved in recent years.

Gwinnett was closely watched during the recent election and as the scene of allegations of voter suppression on the part of the incumbent Republicans, who were accused of removing hundreds of thousands of names from electoral roles because of technicalities and allowing fewer voting booths in traditional Democrat neighbourhoods.

In Florida, It took two weeks, several recounts and a series of controversies to ultimately find a winner.

Republicans Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis were officially certified as Florida’s next senator and governor respectively, ending a messy midterm election.

But the vote ushered in Andrew Gillum, the charismatic and progressive young black mayor of Tallahassee, who had hoped to with the governorship.

Gillum improved Democratic margins and win urban counties by big margins but he lost smaller, suburban counties.

However, Gillum and Stacey Abrams are being hailed as the future of the Democrats in the south.

GQ magazine labelled them “exciting and inspiring politicians in whom voters made real emotional investments”.

And observers says the gap in southern states between the dominant Republicans and the Democrats has closed in recent years as more voters turn their backs on the traditional parties to become no-party affiliated, indicating disillusionment with the politics and as a protest at the candidates being fielded.



Laurie Nowell

AMES Australia Senior Journalist