Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of this election is that Georgia is now considered by many to be in-play.

Several recent polls have shown Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton statistically tied in a state traditionally dominated by Republicans. Why is that? Experts say it's partly because of the changing demographics of the counties immediately surrounding Atlanta.

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You may have heard the expression that Georgia is a red state with Atlanta as its blue center. But as that center continues to expand, just how much it does will play a large part in whether the state itself turns blue in 2016.

After zeroing in on four counties based on their 2012 results, Henry County’s the most interesting. It went red for Mitt Romney in 2012, but trends over time show the county has tripled in size and grown far more diverse. The Republican margin of victory has shrunk in every election since 2000.

Rockdale County has a similar story. It flipped blue in 2008 for President Obama, and its voter numbers since 2000 have doubled. Hillary Clinton’s campaign is hoping for these kinds of trends around the metro.

But not every county is making such a shift. Fayette County has grown quite a bit, too, but its political complexion hasn’t changed. In 2012 it still saw 65 percent of its voters choose Romney over Obama.

Gwinnett, an increasingly diverse county, has gotten tighter and much larger, but still shows a large gap in favor of Republicans. Experts say Donald Trump needs to hold counties like these to keep Georgia red.

Of course, none of these numbers consider the current candidates. Georgia wasn’t considered a swing state until this summer, when Clinton opened up a wide lead nationally. Now that she’s there again, the latest polls show the state in play, and if so, those counties around Atlanta could be prove critical.

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