ATLANTA (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney beat Democrat Barack Obama in Georgia's presidential election on Tuesday, an expected outcome in a GOP-dominated state.
Though both Romney and Obama raised money in Georgia, neither mounted a major campaign here. Georgia shifted strongly Republican years ago, and the GOP holds every statewide office. Romney picks up the state's 16 electoral votes.
Attorney General Sam Olens, who chaired Romney's Georgia campaign, described the election as a good sign for local Republicans ahead of the 2014 governor's race.
"Clearly, the Democrats are trying to make a statement that they can come back in two years," Olens said in a phone interview. "The better we show with Gov. Romney, it shows how far the Democratic Party is really dormant in our state."
Although Georgia is a bastion for Republicans, it has not always favored Romney. Before dropping out, former Georgia Congressman and House Speaker Newt Gingrich won the GOP primary in March, getting 47 percent of the vote compared to 26 percent for Romney.
Voters frequently cited the economy when explaining their votes. Clayton Churchville, a 20-year-old college student from Augusta, chose Romney and said new leadership was needed to turn around the sputtering economy.
"Obama's had his turn and nothing got better," he said.
But Ron Adams of Augusta, a 56-year-old information support specialist, said he felt the president did the best he could with the nation's economic crisis and voted for him for another term.
"With the resistance he had from Republicans (in Congress), I still think he's got us on the path to improving our economy and will have a better four years," Adams said.
Die-hard Republicans saw the choice as simple.
"There's nothing about Obama that's good for our country and our nation," said Lillian Petrie, 80, of Thomasville.
Democrats in Georgia have been watching Obama's performance as an indicator of whether they can revive their flagging party. Obama lost Georgia in 2008, though he still took 47 percent of the vote, a better-than-normal showing for a Democratic candidate in Georgia during an election that saw heavy voter turnout. The last Democrat to win Georgia, Bill Clinton, took just 43 percent of the vote in an election that featured independent Ross Perot, who siphoned off support from the major party candidates.
Russ Bynum contributed to this report from Augusta. Follow Ray Henry at http:// twitter.com/rhenryAP.