The first political group to emerge in the state was the Federalist Party, but it was tainted by association with the Yazoo Fraud of the 1790s. The reform party at this time was the Democratic-Republican Party, headed in Georgia by James Jackson (whose followers included many former Federalists), William Crawford, and George Troup. During the presidency of Andrew Jackson (1829–37), one wing, headed by John Clark, supported the president and called itself the Union Party. The other faction, led by Troup, defended South Carolina's right to nullify laws and called itself the States' Rights Party. Subsequently the Union Party affiliated with the Democrats, and the States' Rights Party merged with the Whigs. When the national Whig Party collapsed, many Georgia Whigs joined the Native American (Know-Nothing) Party. During Reconstruction, the Republican Party captured the governor's office, but Republican hopes died when federal troops were withdrawn from the state in 1870.
Georgia voted solidly Democratic between 1870 and 1960, despite challenges from the Independent Party in the 1880s and the Populists in the 1890s. Georgia cast its electoral votes for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election until 1964, when Republican Barry Goldwater won the state. Four years later, George C. Wallace of the American Independent Party received Georgia's 12 electoral votes. Republican Richard Nixon carried the state in 1972, as the Republicans also became a viable party at the local level. In 1976, Georgia's native son Jimmy Carter returned the state to the Democratic camp in presidential balloting. Another native Georgian and former Georgia governor, Lester Maddox, was the American Independent candidate in 1976.
Georgia Presidential Vote by Political Parties, 1948–2000
|YEAR||ELECTORAL VOTE||GEORGIA WINNER||DEMOCRAT||REPUBLICAN||STATES' RIGHTS DEMOCRAT||PROGRESSIVE|
|* Won US presidential election.|
|2000||13||*Bush, G. W. (R)||1,116,230||1,419,720||36,332||10,926||13,432|
Republican George W. Bush won 55% of the vote, and Democrat Al Gore won 43% in the 2000 presidential election. In 1996, four-term US Democratic Senator Sam Nunn vacated his seat, which was won by Democrat Max Cleland, a Vietnam War veteran and triple amputee who had formerly headed the Veterans Administration. Georgia's other senator, Republican Paul Coverdell, was elected in a special runoff election in 1992 and reelected in 1998. Coverdell died of a stroke in July 2000; former governor Zell Miller (Democrat) was appointed to succeed him. Miller was elected in November 2000 to serve the remaining four years of the term, but in 2003, he announced he would not run for reelection to the Senate in 2004. Republican Saxby Chambliss was elected Senator in 2002.
After the 1994 elections, Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich became the first Republican to hold the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives in 40 years. He resigned from Congress in 1999.
In 1998 Georgians elected Democrat Roy Barnes governor, who replaced outgoing (two-term) Democratic Governor Zell Miller. Long-time Democrat Sonny Purdue changed party affiliations in 1998 to the Republican Party, and won election as governor in 2002. He became the first Republican governor elected since Reconstruction in Georgia. Following the 2002 elections, Georgia's delegation to the House comprised eight Republicans and five Democrats. At the state level there were 30 Republicans and 26 Democrats in the state senate; and 106 Democrats, 73 Republicans, and one independent in the state house in mid-2003. In 2002 there were 3,715,263 registered voters; there is no party registration in the state.