Here's a surprising result: Republican Janice Frey Van Ness won a special election runoff Dec. 1 in Georgia's 43rd state Senate district. The surprise is that this is a district whose population is 61 percent black and voted 72 percent for Barack Obama in 2012. It covers suburban territory southeast of Atlanta, including most of Rockdale County, a small part of DeKalb County and part of Newton County. This is an area of rapid population growth, with a growing population of middle-income black homeowners.
Does this mean that middle-income blacks are trending Republican? Maybe, maybe not. Van Ness undoubtedly benefited from local ties: a small business owner and found of a private school, she was elected to the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners in 2006 and 2010. Turnout was low and she probably benefited from personal ties. But it does suggest that in the post-Obama years more black voters than in the past may be willing to give serious consideration to Republican candidates.