There’s a joke about Atlanta’s most popular sports teams and how they often fail to reach their potential. The Atlanta Hawks franchise has gone more than 60 years without an N.B.A. championship. In 2017, during Super Bowl LI, the Atlanta Falcons were up, 28-3, in the third quarter against the New England Patriots. You know what happened next.
Georgia Democrats, long a source of hope for the national party, are seeking to avoid a similar reputation. In 2016, prominent supporters of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign infamously crowed about a changing electoral map that made Georgia winnable for Democrats, only to lose the state and the election.
The following year, Democrats watched an expensive special congressional election slip through their fingers. And the year after that, Stacey Abrams, a former State House minority leader, captured national attention and drove record turnout but lost the race for governor to Brian Kemp, a Republican who has stuck close to President Trump since his election.
But now, with two Senate seats in play and Mr. Trump on the ballot in November, Georgia Democrats are telling anyone who will listen: This time, it’s real.
State elected officials are urging national Democrats, including Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive presidential nominee, to make a big investment in the state, pumping the type of staffing and advertising money into Georgia that is usually reserved for the Wisconsins and Michigans.
The dream scenario, which would include presidential and Senate victories but also wins in the state Legislature, could upend the balance of power in Washington and provide a road map for other Southern Democrats, who are seeking to make gains after years of being shut out.
On Tuesday, Democrats will choose from seven candidates in the race against an incumbent Republican, Senator David Perdue. (Georgia’s other Senate seat will also be up for grabs in November, but there will be no primary and the winner will be chosen in a special election. The seat is held by Senator Kelly Loeffler, whom Mr. Kemp appointed late last year.)
The favorite Tuesday is Jon Ossoff, 33, who lost the closely watched special election in 2017 and has returned to seek higher office. He earned the endorsement of Representative John Lewis, the civil rights icon.
If no candidate receives 50 percent support in the crowded primary field, there will be a runoff.
“Part of this is the collapse of the G.O.P.’s Southern strategy,” Mr. Ossoff said in an interview, referring to the controversial political playbook, attributed to former President Richard M. Nixon, that Republicans used to win over white voters in the South.
“We were meant to be distracted by racial and cultural division, but Georgia has moved beyond that,” he said. “And the coalition that’s already being built statewide right now transcends race, transcends urban and suburban and rural divides, and transcends regionalism. And we’re seeing that play out across the South.”
DuBose Porter, a former State House Democratic leader and party chairman who ran for governor in 2010, said that if Mr. Biden wanted to emphasize Georgia’s importance — both to the Electoral College and the Senate — he would select Ms. Abrams as his running mate.
“I think we’ll get there already,” Mr. Porter said. “But if Joe Biden were to select Stacey Abrams, I think that could put us over the top and create some excitement in such an important cycle.”
He did not mention Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, who is also seen as a possible choice for Mr. Biden’s number two.
All told, Georgia Democrats see 2020 as a culmination of years of planning, arguing that their previous electoral shortcomings were not failures but building blocks. Their confidence comes as Democrats across the country believe they are well positioned to make Mr. Trump a one-term president, and public polling shows Mr. Biden with a lead that has only improved in recent weeks.
Mr. Trump’s reaction to both the coronavirus pandemic and the national protests over police brutality has drawn criticism from even some members of his own party. And in Georgia, where growing metropolitan areas have led to an influx of new residents and suburban voters have flocked to Democrats in increasing numbers, the president’s actions could hold particular weight.
At a recent candidate event in Rabun County, a northeastern region that is one of the most conservative in the state, Republicans running for Congress and the state Legislature conceded that a blue Georgia was not only a possibility, but also an inevitability if Republicans did not expand their electoral base.
“These are good, vital folks to the economy and we want them here,” said Ethan Underwood, a lawyer running in the Ninth Congressional District to replace Representative Doug Collins, who is running for Ms. Loeffler’s Senate seat.
“But it’s on Republicans to do that,” Mr. Underwood said. “We have to be reaching out to folks of different ethnicities and cultures to know that we all want good economic stability, good safe places to raise our families. We have to show we have a lot more in common than differences.”
According to an analysis by Ms. Abrams’s voting rights group, Fair Fight, that was obtained by The New York Times, there is reason to believe that Georgia’s electorate has changed even since 2018, when Ms. Abrams fell short by about 55,000 votes amid widespread allegations of voter suppression.
More than 700,000 Georgians who were not eligible to vote in 2018 have now registered, with about 1,250 joining the electorate every day. Democrats believe this group, which is more diverse and younger than typical Georgia voters, is much more likely to back Democrats.
A disproportionate number of these new voters are also new to Georgia, as the growth of certain industries — particularly television and film production — has brought an influx of new residents to cities like Atlanta.
This has enabled Democrats to embrace a new strategy for statewide campaigns. Gone are those who tried to toe a careful ideological line, caving to the conservative fundamentals of the state in a way that neither persuaded moderates nor inspired the base.
Instead, leading Senate candidates like Mr. Ossoff; the civil rights leader Raphael Warnock; former Mayor Teresa Tomlinson of Columbus, Ga.; and Sarah Riggs Amico, who previously ran for lieutenant governor, are seeking to build on Ms. Abrams’s legacy of coalition-building and new voter registration.
Mr. Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, which was once led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., underscored the importance of winning over suburban white women who may have voted for Republicans in the past. In 2018, the suburban Atlanta district that Mr. Ossoff had lost a year earlier sent Lucy McBath, a Democrat, to Congress. She unseated Karen Handel, a Republican who is running against her again in 2020.
Mr. Warnock did not see a tension in appealing to those voters who backed Ms. McBath while vocally identifying as a progressive.
“They are growing cold on the G.O.P.,” said Mr. Warnock, who is running in the November special election. “There has been a conventional wisdom that Democrats run to the center — especially in a race like mine — but the center has moved in American politics. And I think, above all, people want an authentic voice representing them.”
But as Georgia Democrats know better than most, the state’s Republicans will not go quietly. Both Senate races will be flush with money and have attracted the interest of Mr. Trump’s administration.
Republicans also oversee the state’s elections, and they have repeatedly been accused of voter suppression tactics; they have closed polling locations in Democratic areas and purged thousands from the voter rolls.
In 2018, Mr. Kemp remained secretary of state as he ran for governor, refusing to recuse himself even as he participated in the election he oversaw. Brad Raffensperger, who replaced him in that role, has encouraged residents to vote by mail in Tuesday’s primary, but logistical concerns have left many skeptical the state is ready to hold a full election in amid a pandemic.
The virus “has had a grave impact, a real dent, in how we’re accessing the ballot,” said Aunna Dennis, the Georgia executive director for Common Cause, a nonpartisan grass-roots organization focused on voting rights.
She said the simple question of ballot access should take precedence over any horse-race predictions. “The system is broken here in Georgia,” she said.
On Friday, at an early voting location on Atlanta’s west side, it took Mr. Ossoff more than three hours to cast his ballot. It took State Senator Nikema Williams, waiting in line on her 10th wedding anniversary, more than five hours.
Ms. Williams, who is also the chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, said the most evidence of the party’s growth could be seen on the state level. Democrats were running more credible candidates across the state, she said, adding that “challenging everywhere gives them more opportunities for success.”
“We have already exceeded all of our numbers — blown them out of the water — for the number of people who have voted in a Democratic primary,” Ms. Williams said. “The future is blue, not purple.”