Politics has increasingly played a role in where people decide to move to and visit. Since Athens is a small southern city, is Athens, GA a conservative city like other similar-sized southern cities?
Athens, Georgia is not a conservative city. Athens is a liberal college town with a diverse mix of residents. Athens has attracted more liberal southerners to move there for years. The city voted 70.1% for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election and for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
In this article, we’ll go over the politics surrounding Athens, GA including the election history, taxes, and some of the more important policies for conservatives. Keep reading to help you decide if Athens is the right place for you.
Info About Athens, GA
- Population: 127,315
- Race: White (non-Hispanic) 54.7%, Black 28.2%, Hispanic/Latino 10.9%, Asian 3.9%
- Median Household Income: $39,713 (this does include a lot of students)
- Median Home Value: $301,072 (Sep. 2022, up 24% from 2021)
Athens, GA is a beautiful college town 72 miles east of Atlanta, Georgia. It’s considered one of the best college towns in America with a vibrant community and one of the consistently best-ranked football teams in the country.
The city also has a strong art and music scene for a smaller city. In the downtown area, you will find a lot of different bars and music venues where you can meet different people and experience some of the local culture.
The city has been known to be fairly liberal for a while now and became attractive to other like-minded people. Members of the LGBT community have been coming to Athens since it’s one of the few cities in the religious south where they tend to feel more welcome.
Overall, Athens is a great place because liberals will find the culture there very welcoming and republicans can live with the culture for the most part since state law generally passes conservative laws.
Georgia as a state voted for Republicans for president from 1996 to 2016 with that trend ending in 2020 when Biden won the state with razor-thin margins. Unlike the rest of the state though Athens has consistently been turning out for Democrats. Athens has voted Democrat in the last few presidential election cycles.
In the 2020 election, Athens voted 70.13% for the Democrat candidate Joe Biden. They voted 28.1% for Donald Trump.
Georgia also famously lost both of its Republican senators in the 2020 election and now has two democrat senators. Athens voted for both senators with about 71.2% of the vote for one and 71.8% of the vote for the other. Raphael Warnock’s election was a special election so he is actually up for reelection in 2022. He will certainly win in Athens again, but his race is considered a toss-up in the pre-election polls.
Athens is split into two different house districts. This is likely because the state has been controlled by Republicans for over a decade now and the map was drawn in order to reduce the number of liberal voters in Athens in those districts. The two districts 9 and 10 both are large areas with lots of suburban and rural towns, and because of that, the two districts tend to go for republican representatives.
In the election for the District 9 representative, Athens voters voted 72.4% for the Democrat candidate, and in district 10 they voted 68.03% for the Democrat candidate. If you’re a conservative you’d be happy to have republican representatives for your district, but your neighbors in Athens may not be as happy about it.
Georgia has had a Republican trifecta government for the last 20 years meaning it has had a Republican governor and a Republican-controlled house and senate. In the 2018 election, the Republican candidate won but only by a very thin margin. In that election, Athens voted 70.21% for Abrams (D) and only 28.53% for Kemp (R).
Stacy Abrams conceded the election but has refused to say the election was legitimate and has been campaigning since her loss for the 2022 election. The 2022 Governor’s race is expected to be another tight rematch between Governor Kemp and Stacy Abrams again. Athens will likely vote the similar to the way they did last time.
The Georgia state legislature is controlled by a conservative majority. The two state senators over Athens are republicans, both of whom lost by 40% in Athens, but picked up votes in other parts of their districts. There are three representatives in the house over Athens. Two of those are Republicans and one is a Democrat.
The members of the city council and the mayor are decidedly more liberal than conservative.
Georgia has a graduated income tax that ranges from 1.00% to 5.75%. The 5.75% rate kicks in at $7,000 if you’re single and $10,000 if you’re married so unfortunately if you’re making more money most of your money will be taxed at the higher rate. The rate isn’t too high compared to other states though.
In Athens, you’ll be paying a sales tax of 8%. 4% will go to the state and 4% will go to the Clarke county local government. 4% is a fairly high amount to go to the local government, but 8% overall is fairly comparable to the surrounding states.
Property taxes in Clarke County are about 1.00% of the home’s value. If you own a $300,000 home you should expect to pay at least $3000 in property taxes.
Overall, taxes in the state are slightly below average for the country. It’s not a bad place to go when considering the tax burden.
Another interesting part of taxes in Georgia is that because of the Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act or LIFE act, an unborn baby with detectable cardiac activity is considered a person and is now a dependent for state tax purposes. So if you are pregnant with a child you will be able to get the dependent write-off on your state taxes even if they aren’t born yet.
Georgia is a gun-friendly state, but you may find that the Athens community is not as friendly. You are allowed to own and carry guns in Athens and there’s nothing the local government can legally do to restrict that according to state law, but you may find that your neighbors in town might not be very supportive of gun ownership. That said you can absolutely own firearms and carry them in town.
Georgia recently passed a constitutional carry law that removes the permit requirement to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense. The new law says that anyone who can legally possess a firearm can carry a concealed handgun in the state in order to protect themselves and others.
Important to Athens the same law applies on the University of Georgia campus, with exceptions for athletic events, dorms, and classes with high school students. If you choose to do this you will want to practice concealing your handgun since your professors and many classmates will likely be less than supportive.
Georgia has no special restrictions on gun purchases such as magazine restrictions or special permitting.
The state also has strong self-defense laws and does not require someone to attempt to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense if they deem it necessary.
Abortion has become an even more important topic for conservatives since June 24th, 2022 when the supreme court gave the Dobbs V Jackson decision overturning the Roe v Wade decision and making Abortion a state issue. This means each state gets to decide if and how abortion is allowed.
Georgia has a strong abortion law in place now that now restricts abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected at about 6 weeks of pregnancy. There are no abortions in Georgia after that point.
The law is also different from other states because the new law makes a fetus with detectable cardiac activity legally a person. This means that for all legal purposes in the State of Georgia an unborn baby is considered a person and holds all the same rights as a baby that is born.
Most abortion laws don’t go this far, and many religious conservatives see this as a very big win.
Conservatives in Athens may find that many of their neighbors disagree with them on this issue, but it’s another example of the influence a Republican State Government can have over a Liberal city.
What Parts of Athens are More Conservative?
Athens is pretty much surrounded by heavily republican areas, so it isn’t hard to live close to Athens if you want to work, play, or go to football games there, but still live among other conservatives. Any of the rural areas will be more conservative, but a few neighborhoods you might consider if you wanted to be close to town, but still, have a majority of conservative neighbors would be the following.
- Pine Ridge
- East side of Winterville
- Diamond Hill