New lines mean Republicans likely to pick up one seat in Georgia

GOP edge in redrawn 6th District led to McBath-Bourdeaux primary in 7th

After Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath's 6th District was redrawn to be much more Republican, she is challenging fellow Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in the 7th District Democratic primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
After Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath's 6th District was redrawn to be much more Republican, she is challenging fellow Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in the 7th District Democratic primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted March 17, 2022 at 5:30am

Corrected March 25 | ANALYSIS — Even when the House majority is at stake, parties don’t always try to maximize gains when drawing a new congressional map. Georgia is a good example this time around. 

Currently, Republicans have an 8 to 6 advantage in the Peach State’s House delegation. That split isn’t too far away from Georgia’s emerging battleground state status, including the 2020 presidential election, when Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump 49.47 percent to 49.24 percent. 

Despite growth in the Atlanta metro area, Georgia hasn’t gained a House seat through apportionment in 20 years and maintained its 14 seats (and 16 Electoral College votes) after the 2020 census.  

[More House race ratings | Initial Senate race ratings]

With control of the state legislature and the governorship, Republicans could have drawn the new lines to achieve a multiple-seat gain. Instead, the GOP is likely to gain a single seat in Georgia, as it chose to “give” Democrats a solidly blue district in the suburbs in order to make surrounding districts functionally solid for Republicans. 

While it might seem counterintuitive for one party to draw solid seats for the other party, in this case, it minimizes how many GOP-held districts could be vulnerable in a future cycle more favorable to Democrats.

The most likely outcome for 2022 is a single seat gain for the GOP, extending its advantage in the delegation to nine Republicans and five Democrats. Republicans need a net gain of five seats nationwide to reclaim the House majority. 

Primary issues

Georgia will be hosting extremely competitive races for the Senate and governor in November, but the vast majority of the House action will be in the May 24 primary. 

By redrawing the 6th District to be heavily Republican, Republican cartographers essentially forced Reps. Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux to run against each other in the Democratic primary in the neighboring 7th District. Bourdeaux currently represents more of the new district (57 percent to 12 percent), but McBath had more campaign cash at the end of the year ($2.5 million to $2 million) and a more progressive reputation that could match up better with the primary electorate. To win the nomination outright, candidates in Georgia have to get more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary. The presence of a third candidate, state Rep. Donna McLeod, means the race could go to a June 21 runoff.

With GOP Rep. Jody B. Hice running for Georgia secretary of state, Republican candidates are lining up to compete for the open seat in the 10th District, which is also solidly Republican. Trucking company owner Mike Collins (who nearly won this seat in 2014 and is the son of former Rep. Mac Collins), former Rep. Paul Broun, former Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones and others are competing in the primary. Jones has been endorsed by Trump after getting out of the gubernatorial race, but he also has significant personal baggage. 

And Democratic Rep. David Scott faces another competitive primary in the 13th District after narrowly avoiding a primary runoff in 2020. Former state Sen. Vincent Fort is challenging the congressman this time. Biden would have won the seat with 80 percent, so the primary is the ballgame for Scott, the late baseball slugger Hank Aaron’s brother-in-law. 

Republicans believe they have a shot at knocking off Democratic Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. in the 2nd District with potential nominee Jeremy Hunt, an Army veteran and Fox News commentator. It’s worth keeping an eye on, but Biden would have won the new district by 10 points, so Democrats would need to be close to a collapse for Republicans to win. The race starts rated as Solid Democratic.

Democrats (and maybe a few Republicans) want to oust GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. She’s running for reelection in a 14th District that Trump would have won with 68 percent, so her vulnerability would be in a primary. But her confrontational style matches up with a sizable segment of the base Republican voters, and she had $3.5 million in her campaign account on Dec. 31.

6th District (Open; Lucy McBath, D)

After Republicans redrew the district to a seat Trump would have won by 15 points with 57 percent, McBath had to run elsewhere in order to have a chance at winning. Her exit and the new partisan performance in the district attracted multiple Republican candidates to the race. 

Former Georgia Ethics Commission chairman Jake Evans and physician Rich McCormick (who narrowly lost the 7th District race in 2020 and has Club for Growth support in this race) look like the early front-runners, but former state Rep. Meagan Hanson (who has been endorsed by New York Rep. Elise Stefanik) and teacher Mary Mallory Staples are running as well. A runoff seems likely.

The race could be rated Solid Republican, but we’re rating it Likely Republican so that the GOP takeover of a Democratic seat is visible on our rating charts. Initial rating: Likely Republican.

Races rated Solid Republican

Races rated Solid Democratic

Nathan L. Gonzales is an elections analyst for CQ Roll Call.

The portion of the 7th District now represented by McBath was corrected in this report.