The story of Nunn’s competitive position is as much a story of Georgia’s changing demographics as it is about the candidate. Republicans have known for some time that the state’s population, which is rapidly becoming less white, is a problem for them. What they didn’t expect was how quickly the threat would arrive, especially in an off-year election without an African American candidate on the top of the ticket. The GOP easily swept its elections in 2010 thanks in part to a large drop in Democratic turnout.
“The competitiveness really caught a lot of folks by surprise,” Todd Rehm, a Republican consultant in the state, told msnbc. “Normally if you said you were going a state to win by turning out people who don’t normally vote you’d be laughed out of the room.”
The race could have implications nationally as a result. One of the biggest questions in politics for 2016 and beyond is whether the ascendant coalition of minority voters, women, and young people that President Obama built can survive beyond his presidency.