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A “great reverse migration” of African Americans to the US south from the north could turn historically Republican parts of Georgia’s state capital, Atlanta, from red to Democrat blue as early as next month’s midterms, experts say.

William Frey, demographer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said a key to this trajectory is the burgeoning Gwinnett County on the outskirts of Atlanta, where many black people have moved in recent years.

Gwinnett is a being closely scrutinised in Georgia’s extremely tight gubernatorial battle, fought between Stacey Abrams, a Democrat hoping to be the country’s first female African American governor, and Republican Brian Kemp, who has denied accusations of voter suppression impacting minorities.

All eyes are on whether Gwinnett will go to the Democrats, signalling a shift in what was one of the staunchest Republican states in the American south, if not the entire United States. If so, it could be a harbinger of swings in other states that have not previously been battlegrounds.

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