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Last Democrat elected governor of Georgia believes state will be a battleground for years to come

National attention will stay on Georgia voters.

ATLANTA — In 2020's election, Democrats made substantial inroads in Georgia. 

But if you think that means the state is flipping to Democrats, don’t be so sure. Georgia may be a battleground state for decades.  

Democrats were buoyed by their ability to get wins in Georgia for Joe Biden, as well as Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in their U.S. Senate races. 

However, some believe there could be a tug of war for the political parties wanting to be on top.

"I don’t think Georgia will end up being an overwhelmingly Democratic state or overwhelmingly Republican state," said Roy Barnes, the last Democrat elected governor of Georgia.  "But it will become a swing state even more than it is now."

Barnes was governor 20 years ago.  He said Georgia is becoming the national bellwether state that Ohio has been for much of the last half century or more.

About 57 years ago, Ohio voters chose Lyndon Johnson over Barry Goldwaterin the 1964 election. For 14 straight elections, Ohio picked the winning presidential candidate: from Johnson to Richard Nixon to Jimmy Carter and Regan, to Clinton and both George Bushes -- all the way to Barack Obama and Donald Trump.  

But last year, Ohio broke its streak by decisively choosing Trump in his loss to Biden.

"Ohio is trending more and more red," Barnes said. "Georgia is replacing Ohio."

RELATED: Women of color in Georgia showed up in record numbers to make their voices heard for 2020 Election

As a new political battleground state, Georgia would get even more national attention than it got when Trump and Biden made multiple visits here last year – the kind of attention Ohio has gotten for decades.

Yet it may be too soon to declare that 'Georgia is replacing Ohio,' said Emory University political science professor Andra Gillespie.  "I suspect that the new normal, at least for the short term, is going to be a lot of attention, a lot of focus on ad buys and the working assumption -- which I think is a sound one -- that we can expect races to be competitive here," Gillepsie said.

Georgia as a chronic battleground state could also result in divided government at home – with the two parties sharing power at the state capitol. It could force compromises.  But it could also make political divisions even sharper than they are now.

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