The Georgia GOP Has A Black Voter Problem. . .

. . .And the Democratic Party of Georgia has a white voter problem. Unfortunately for the Dems though, there are more white voters in Georgia than there are black voters.

Savannah Morning News political reporter Larry Peterson states the obvious in a Sunday column; that Georgia Democrats will have difficulty winning statewide elections without “substantial support” from white voters.

Democrats, Peterson writes, receive near monolithic support from the state’s black voters, but draw support from less than 25% of white voters.

. . .Obama drew only 23 percent of the white vote.

Four years before, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry – about as white as you can get – did just as poorly among whites.

Blacks overwhelmingly support Democrats but make up just more than one-quarter of Georgia’s voters. So Democrats need substantial support from whites to win statewide. And, in recent years, they haven’t had it.

Source: Savannah Morning News, “Ga. Democrats struggle for white votes”, December 21, 2008

Going back to the 2004 presidential preference primary, blacks have constituted an average of 47.5% of Democratic primary voters. Over the same period of time, blacks have represented an average of 1.9% in the GOP primary.

The GOP, however, can afford to defer their minority outreach program for the time being simply because of demographics.

As I frequently said throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, it doesn’t matter if every single black of voting age in America registers and votes for Obama; if he doesn’t get between thirty-five and forty-five percent of the white vote, he’s toast.

The same holds true for statewide races here in Georgia.

Even if every single black voter in this state casts their ballots for the Democratic nominee, the Democrats will still lose simply because ninety-eight percent of 29.9% cannot beat seventy-seven percent of 62.7%. Once again, Georgia Democrats need between thirty-five and forty-five percent of the white vote to win.

There can be no doubt that there is significant white flight from the Georgia Democratic Party. But an even more disturbing reality is that there is an exodus of conservatives from the state Democratic Party.

Again, Larry Peterson writes, “Stripped of most of its white conservatives, the party’s support base is not only smaller but also more liberal. So the best way to win a Democratic primary is to run to the left. But that’s not how you win general elections in most of Georgia.”

Skyler Akins, the V.P. of Membership for the Georgia Young Democrats, recently commented that to be a more competitive party, Democrats must recruit more conservative Democrats to run for office and for party leadership positions [Source: Peach Pundit, “To Paraphrase Al Gore, It Is Time For Kidd To Go”, December 5, 2008].

“In order for Democrats to regain power in this state, we have to realize that our citizens are conservative, not Republican,” Akins argued.

I agree.

Now I’m sure that the more liberal members of the Democratic Party will vehemently disagree, but I ask you. . .

. . . When’s the last time a liberal won statewide in Georgia?

39 comments

  1. Chris says:

    Sonny in 2002.

    In all seriousness, the Dems have a similar issue the the GOP has in other parts of the country, namely the national party’s behavior and positions are 180 degrees out of phase with the positions of the local voters.

    No matter how conservative, your Democratic candidates will be viewed through the prism of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. Just like no matter how moderate Shays and other Republicans in the North East are, they are viewed as in league with biggots and hicks from the South.

    Marshall and Barrow are probably more the aberation than the norm. In fact, short of one vote (Electing the Speaker of the House) either of those could be members of the GOP Caucus with little raised eyebrows.

    “In order for Democrats to regain power in this state, we have to realize that our citizens are conservative, not Republican,”
    That should be easy, because even the Republicans aren’t conservative. See: Chambliss, Saxby or the Gwinnett Commission.

  2. reggiejg says:

    Just like no matter how moderate Shays and other Republicans in the North East are, they are viewed as in league with biggots and hicks from the South
    Sorry Chris, but trying to offset the socialist leanings of the national Democrats by referring to southern Republicans as “biggots and hicks” doesn’t get it.

    We are hurting nationally because we run ‘moderate’ apologists in place of real conservatives. No doubt there are a limited number of biggoted Republicans. But it’s the Democrat party that gave us Jim Crow laws, lynchings, and defense of slavery.

    The minority vote went with those who are willing to give them preferential treatment: affirmative action (as opposed to equal rights), mandated ‘elected’ positions within their delegations, etc. It takes a special person to see beyond those immediate benefits and realize the Republican philosophies are better in the long run. That’s why those minorities counted as Republicans are great minds like Herman Cain, Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, J.C. Watts, Condoleeza Rice, etc. They have to think beyond the ‘gifts’ of the moment.

  3. rugby fan says:

    “But it’s the Democrat party that gave us Jim Crow laws, lynchings, and defense of slavery.”

    So are you saying the Democratic Party today is the same one of years past?

  4. SouthFultonGuy says:

    So this is worthy of Peach Pundit reader’s consumption, but not worth posting on Andre’s own BLOG…hmmmm

  5. Just Some Thoughts says:

    The GOP has squandered all of their resources on nonsense when it comes to minority out reach. They back minority candidates and accepted minority memebers that do not fit the philosophy. And in the end it wouldn’t matter how much they would spend or support a minority candidate.

    The fact is if the “groups” that consider themeslves edcuation and training for conservatives would teach their followers how to do real out reach and education instead of pushing them into offices where they don’t belong the party could begin to build support in the minority communities around the state. The biggest joke organization in this regard is CLI. Now I know that a bunch of you will hoot and hollar about it but no where is there a class taught to these blind followers on how to reach those who don’t see and understand why conservatism is the best choice. The folks who run CLI and who walk in lock step are many of the ones who have lead us to the edge of this abyss. They have no real standards on membership and have no vision on how to move the party forward.

    In my experience there have been plenty of issues that the party could have reached out to the minority groups and spoken to rationally and quietly to teach them the truth about what they believe. Here are just a few where they missed, abortion, home schools and education, gay marriage, real immigration reform, lower taxes, and yes even welfare reform. The party took the path of least resistance and allowed a few big mouth biggots to ruin their image.

    The fact is the party has never taken a stand against the fringe members, especially once elected, on any issue. They have allowed the few screamers to define who they are and now they can’t figure out why no one will listen to them. It all starts with the leaders of the party and their support groups.

  6. umustbekidding says:

    Funny story, my “white” sister voted for Obama but her “black” husband voted for McCain. They just had it all wrong.

  7. stephaniemills21 says:

    In my experience there have been plenty of issues that the party could have reached out to the minority groups and spoken to rationally and quietly to teach them the truth about what they believe.

    This has to be the most arrogant statement I have read on PP in a long time. Seriously, and you wonder why you have a problem with minority voters. Maybe it is statements like this.

  8. Decaturguy says:

    South Fulton,

    It’s called pandering, one thing that Andre is quite good at.

    Of course, he fails to mention how a Democratic candidate being more conservative can also depress that African American and liberal vote enough so that any gain in share in “conservative white voters,” would be offset by the loss of these base voters. A very good study of that would be the candidacy of Mark Taylor, someone Andre supported as the “conservative Democrat” who received the lowest vote total of any major Democratic statewide candidate in history – 39% – mainly because the base did not support him.

    Simpletons like Andre like to cast politics as conservative vs. liberal, or black vs. white, but, really, the question of whether Democrats can come back to being a competitve statewide party again is whether Democrats can appeal to the concerns of suburban voters in Metro Atlanta (on issues such as transportation, job growth, health care and education), where the population growth and demographic changes in the next 10 years will be explosive. And that really doesn’t have anything to do with the questions he poses, does it?

  9. Andre says:

    DecaturGuy,

    I really wish you wouldn’t make statements such as “a Democratic candidate being more conservative can also depress that African American and liberal vote enough so that any gain in share in ‘conservative white voters,’ would be offset by the loss of these base voters,” because that simply isn’t true.

    In the 2006 general election, blacks represented 24% of the vote.

    In the 2004 general election, blacks represented 25.4% of the vote.

    In the 2002 general election, blacks represented 22.6% of the vote.

    And in the 2000 general election, blacks represented 23.2% of the vote.

    So where is this so-called “depressed African-American vote” that Mark Taylor caused by brandishing his conservative credentials?

    It is non-existent.

    Blacks are more conservative on social issues than you’d like to admit. For example, in the majority black south Fulton precincts, John Kerry repeatedly received between sixty-seven and ninety-seven percent of the vote. However, the gay marriage amendment was also received the overwhelming support of those same black voters; between sixty-seven and eighty-one percent of the vote.

    Now as for the depressed liberal vote, I believe you can attribute that to metro-Atlanta Democrats who refused to get over the brutal Cox/Taylor primary. But the liberal candidate for Lt. Governor, Jim Martin, lost as well.

    So again I ask, when’s the last time a liberal won statewide in Georgia?

  10. Andre says:

    Let me add one more thing. . .

    Between 2000 and 2006, the Republican candidate at the top of the ticket received an average of 14.3% of the black vote.

  11. Progressive Dem says:

    The party that espouses rational transportation and education policies will emerge as the ruling party. The party of low taxes and poor services – the current GOP position- will not cut it. The party of sit back and let them make mistakes – the current Democratic position – won’t cut it either.

  12. Just Some Thoughts says:

    stephanie i understand why you are so hot and bothered by that sentence. I was not trying to suggest that minority groups need to be told what they think or how they think and I am guessing that is what you intepretted it as. What I was trying to say was that the GOP could have an opportunity where there are common interests between what the party believes and what might adversely affect a particular community

  13. MouthoftheSouth says:

    Andre,

    Between 35 and 45 percent of the White vote? You can’t narrow that down a little? You gave yourself all the givens, you think with a little maths you could have teased that one out.

    The Dems have a branding problem. We need new leadership that can get behind very popular issues early that Republicans are money-wed against and then hammer them on them. Not gay marriage, that’s a loser. Dems must show that they are the reasonable, moderate ones and be ready to lay the smack down when Republicans overreach. However, the dem leadership is too busy trying to preserve what little vote we get by arguing about the size of the portraits.

    However, if that loses one black vote for us, that’s fine by me, but I get to pick which one.

  14. Decaturguy says:

    Yes, Andre, I realize that black people by and large don’t like gay marriage. That doesn’t mean they run out and vote for Republicans. They don’t.

    All I’m saying is that the only real example of an old style white conservative Democrat running statewide (since Dems lost power back in 2002) was Mark Taylor and he performed more poorly than any other Democratic candidate in Georgia history. If that is your example of how Democrats should run in the future … it was a failure. You should know failure Andre … how is your term on the South Fulton City Council going?

  15. Andre says:

    “All I’m saying is that the only real example of an old style white conservative Democrat running statewide (since Dems lost power back in 2002) was Mark Taylor and he performed more poorly than any other Democratic candidate in Georgia history.”

    If that’s the assessment we’re going to be using, DecaturGuy, then Jim Martin performed more poorly than any other Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor in Georgia’s history.

    Denise Majette, with her paltry 40% of the vote in 2004, performed more poorly than any other Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia’s history.

    Both of these candidates were characterized as liberals by the non-partisan website On The Issues.org and both lost.

    So while you continue to highlight Mark Taylor’s inability to win the 2006 gubernatorial election, the fact remains that no liberal has won a statewide election in Georgia. And no amount of childish name-calling on your part will change that.

    One more thing, blacks aren’t voting for Democrats because they’re liberal; blacks are voting for Democrats because of that upper-cased “D” next to the candidate’s name on the ballot.

  16. Decaturguy says:

    One more thing, blacks aren’t voting for Democrats because they’re liberal; blacks are voting for Democrats because of that upper-cased “D” next to the candidate’s name on the ballot.

    Tell me what African Americans aren’t generally liberal about, with the one exception of gay marriage?

    With statements like that it is no wonder you are supporting that unreformed Confederate, Eric Johnson, for Lt. Governor. Do you have any credibility left at all?

    Why don’t you just switch sides once and for all?

  17. Andre says:

    DecaturGuy,

    Your last two comments aren’t even relevant to the topic of this thread, so I’m not even going to dignify them with a response.

  18. Decaturguy says:

    Shouldn’t you resign from your position with the Democratic Party of Georgia given your support of Johnson?

  19. Andre says:

    You truly are a sad person if your day is spent monitoring the groups I join on Facebook.

    Well allow me to save you some time. . . I’m also a member of the “Friends of David Shafer” group and I’m following Michigan state GOP chair Saul Anuzis on Twitter.

    I hope you have fun writing some trivial expose’ on my Facebook, Twitter and Myspace activities.

  20. Andre says:

    As I said before, anyone monitoring what I do on Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter is someone with entirely too much time on their hands.

    I hardly think my activities on those social networking sites merits a CIA-level inquiry; but if someone think it’s “newsworthy” to expose my exploits there, then I hope they enjoy themselves.

    After all, it’s got people like you all hot and bothered, and wet with perspiration.

    By the way, DecaturGuy, here’s a news tip for you. . .

    . . . Last night, I had a dream that I was interviewing Jeb Bush about the tri-state water wars and his possible run for U.S. Senate in 2010.

    I’m sure the readers of your blog will love to know that I’m dreaming about Republicans now.

  21. Jmac says:

    If that’s the assessment we’re going to be using, DecaturGuy, then Jim Martin performed more poorly than any other Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor in Georgia’s history.

    Denise Majette, with her paltry 40% of the vote in 2004, performed more poorly than any other Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia’s history.

    Not that your one for rational arguments, but your cherry-picking to support your position and ignoring electoral trends in doing it. For instance, down-ticket balloting traditionally garners lower turnout rates and they disproportionately favor the state’s majority party. And you’re ignoring the recent and sudden shift in a state electorate which finally realized it was predominantly conservative at various levels of government, thus meaning the electoral results of statewide Democrats were bound to bottom out from 2002-2006.

    That said, Martin ran to the left in 2006 … and outperformed Taylor.

    Majette ran in a high turnout year for the Georgia GOP against a popular Republican figure … and outperformed Taylor.

    While I think folks would agree that, given today’s political environment in Georgia, a hard run to the left would yield little statewide success, it’s likewise silly to put up false comparisons that don’t prove anything. Running to the right won’t result in immediate success for Democrats. The only thing that will is a consistent message and changing demographics (which we saw glimpses of this past election).

  22. Andre says:

    Not to re-hash the past, but do you remember the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary?

    Do you remember that nasty, knock-down, drag-out fight between Cathy Cox and Mark Taylor that resulted in many of Cox’s supporters vowing not to support Taylor against Perdue in the general election?

    Do you remember how Cathy Cox refused to endorse Mark Taylor; told that bold-faced lie that she didn’t know about the 2006 state Democratic convention even though the DPG set the date long before the July primary; and made her first public appearance after the July primary with Sonny Perdue just weeks before the election?

    Mark Taylor’s poor performance in 2006 can be attributed more to the fall out generated from the Democratic primary campaign than to his shift to the right during the general election campaign. After all, black voters’ support for Taylor was in the 80s.

    In the 2000 and 2004 general elections, black voters’ support for Gore and Kerry was also in the 80s as well.

    There was no depressed voter turnout among black voters in 2006 as DecaturGuy claimed. Only liberals, who still had beef with Mark Taylor after his defeat of Cathy Cox, decided to skip the race at the top of the ticket to, I guess, teach the Big Guy a big lesson.

    Well here’s a big newsflash, all non-incumbent Democrats on the ballot in ’06 lost big time.

    Now as for changing demographics, Hispanics represent 1.4% of Georgia’s registered voters; Asians represent 1.2% of Georgia’s registered voters; and Indians represent less than one percent of Georgia’s registered voters.

    According to U.S. Census data, the Hispanic population in Georgia has increased by 2.1% over the last seven years. The Asian population has increased by 0.6% and the Indian population has seen a decrease of 0.1%.

    That’s hardly a dramatic increase in the minority population that will render the 77% of white voters who don’t vote Democratic irrelevant.

  23. Jmac says:

    I’m not arguing against the notion that Taylor didn’t hold onto African-American support, but rather that his running to the right on some issues – in addition to a whole host of other problems with his campaign – ultimately did him in. Yet, despite his high name recognition, he still finished with 38 percent and lagged by four to five percent behind more openly liberal candidates.

    It was a silly strategy because it angered white progressives and didn’t sway any moderate to conservative voters. The fact that you note your ‘newsflash’ just underlines my central point, which is that 2002-2006 is a low mark for Democrats due to a dramatic switching of the voting trends of the electorate, thus putting Republicans in power and resulting in several conservative Democrats switching parties.

    One could make the argument that this is the greatest challenge confronting the Democratic Party in Georgia today, given that we’re stuck in an odd period of transition where Republican leaders have suddenly emerged to the forefront (and come with a deep bench built over years honing their message while in the minority) and Democratic ones are either old-guard types associated with the rapid decline or new ones who lack sufficient statewide exposure.

    Regarding you deriding ‘changing demographics’ … the percentage of the state electorate comprised of Hispanics doubled the past four years. It’s growing exponentially, but the problem is the number was dramatically low to begin with. Over the next decade, Hispanics will comprise a larger and larger chunk of the electorate, and – like younger voters of all races and the traditional African-American base – they tend to lean Democratic. This means the landscape for Democrats is promising in the long-term, and that Georgia will, in due time, emerge as a swing state.

  24. Bill Simon says:

    Stephanie,

    You said this: This has to be the most arrogant statement I have read on PP in a long time. Seriously, and you wonder why you have a problem with minority voters. Maybe it is statements like this.

    So, if we dropped the premise of speaking “rationally” to minorities and talked irrationally to them (like Dems have a propensity to do), that would work better?

  25. stephaniemills21 says:

    Bill, Bill Bill,

    Long time since we sparred on here. Anyway…

    No, the part of that statement that got me was the “teach them the truth about what they believe” part. I find that to be a special kind of arrogance. One that we on the left are not immune to in the least. The reasons why the right has problems with minority (black, in particular) voters are in the same vein with the left’s problems with the rural white voters. We think we know what’s better for them.

  26. Andre says:

    Over the next decade, Hispanics will comprise a larger and larger chunk of the electorate, and – like younger voters of all races and the traditional African-American base – they tend to lean Democratic.

    Whether or not Hispanics will “comprise a larger and larger of the electorate” remains to be seen. Your statement that Hispanics and other younger voters tend to lean Democratic, though, isn’t exactly correct.

    Last night, I took the time to research every exit poll from the 2008, 2006, 2004 and 2000 general elections.

    As it pertains to Hispanic voters, the exit poll conducted by CNN this year, 2006 and 2000 had no data on how that demographic group voted in Georgia. In the 2004 general election though, Georgia Hispanics backed Bush with 56% of the vote.

    In other words, there’s no conclusive data to support your claim that Hispanics tend to vote Democratic in Georgia.

    With Georgia’s youth, the CNN exit poll for 2008 showed voters between the ages of 18 and 24 backed McCain with 50% of the vote. Voters between the ages of 25 and 29 backed McCain with 51% of the vote.

    In 2006, young Georgia voters backed Perdue with 51% of the vote.

    In 2004, young Georgia voters backed Bush with 52% of the vote.

    And in 2000, young Georgia voters back Bush with 60% of the vote.

    What can be learned from this data?

    That young voters in Georgia are swing voters who ultimately swing more towards the GOP.

    Now your theory that “the landscape for Democrats is promising in the long-term” is based on the idea that these young voters will continue to vote in the same way as they get older.

    But that is pure speculation.

    Just in case you wanted to see it, here are the links to the exit polls I cited:

    CNN Exit Poll 2008 (Georgia)

    CNN Exit Poll 2006 (Georgia)

    CNN Exit Poll 2004 (Georgia)

    CNN Exit Poll 2000 (Georgia)

  27. Skyler Akins says:

    Georgia Democrats are responsible for things like the HOPE Scholarship, PeachKids, and some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the country.

    Programs that our party, under the leadership of Conservative Democrats, created with little to no burden to the taxpayers of Georgia. Peachcare has saved the lives of children across our state, and according to polls is an extremely popular program in our state, and nationally under the SCHIP.

    Georgia is known for accomplishing great things. We created great leaders, some of the greatest leaders in our country arguably. Georgia’s best days were under Democratic dominance in our state capital. Remember… Senators Max Cleland and Sam Nunn, Martin Luther King Jr, Joseph Lowery, and the list goes on and on.

    The Republican Party in Georgia has demoralized politics as we know it, and even went so low as to question the patriotism of an honorable man that lost both limbs in service to our great nation. To Decaturguy’s point on Mark Taylor, my favorite man in politics, the Georgia GOP painted Taylor as soft on crime, and ran ads accusing Taylor, a man who has worked for Georgia families his entire life, of being weak on family issues, and “part of the radical homosexual lobby”. Governor Perdue played the dirtiest of dirty politics, and while Taylor was not innocent, he did not stoop as low. The Georgia GOP has given us people like Insurance Commissioner Johnny Oxendine, whom is bankrupting the families of Georgia by lining the pockets of the big insurance companies by letting them set their own rates , in exchange for millions in campaign contributions from the big insurance companies. The Georgia GOP has given us people like Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who as recently as a few weeks ago has made racist statements calling our nations next President “uppity”, a word that in any dictionary tells you the real meaning of it, and it doesn’t take a college degree for Westmoreland or others to know the meaning of that dark word. The Georgia GOP has tried to give Georgia’s Emarald Coast, the pride of our state, to wealthy investors whom want to put condo’s and mansions, in exchange for what….campaign contributions. The list goes on and on.

    I’ve traveled the country, and have friends from coast to coast. The first thing that people comment on to me is the embarassing things that have occurred in our state recently. Gov. Perdue putting veterans on the street in the name of budget cuts, the re-election of a US Senator that says we didn’t get “our people” or “the right people” out the polls, the audacity of State Superintendent Kathy Cox (whom I was a Student Adviser to in High School) to remove the word evolution from our curriculum, and the national news that our Republican Higher Education Committee Chairman wants to consolidate our states nationally recognized Historically Black College’s and Universities in a world where a black man has a 20% chance or less of graduating college, and the shameful racist statements that have recently came from members of the Republican Congressional Delegation. The first thing I do is listen, and them I remind them that Georgia has seen brighter days. Under Democratic Leadership, Georgia created the revolutionary HOPE Scholarship program, that has sent hundreds of thousands of middle class Georgian’s to college, with no burden to tax payers. We passed the toughest drunk driving laws in the country, setting the national standard that safe roads should be our top priority. Our party sent a small peanut farmer to the White House, and has helped that President set the standard for the conduct of ex-presidents. It was in a small church in Atlanta that a baptist Preacher by the name of Martin Luther King Jr got the inspiration and resources to lead a nation to our best days.

    Georgian’s will soon realize the error of their ways. The will see the “Morals” of the Republican Party. The morals that give BILLIONS of tax relief and corporate welfare to CEO’s, and big oil companies, but will not vote to give a penny to the millions of children in our country that do not have health care. They will realize the morality of a Governor and Lt. Governor who will let Georgia’s Veterans hit the streets, our neighborhoods foreclose, and our schools in peril; but will put billions in the pockets of predator lendors, the wealthy private school lobby, and the big insurance companies, not to mention that nice upgrade the Governor Perdue got to his multi million dollar tax payer funded Governors Mansion.

    The will realize the error of their ways. We will once again lead the nation, I have faith. I will pray for the homeless veterans, the school children dropping our of schools, and the hard working people that are uninsured. I will pray that Governor Perdue, Lt Gov. Cagle, Comm. Oxendine, and the rest of them don’t have to see the faces of the people they’ve harmed.

  28. Skyler Akins says:

    Chris,

    Reps Barrow and Marshall are two fine members of Congress.

    They have voted for things that are against traditional values, sure, but so have most members on both sides of the isle.

    I admire Rep. Marshall in particular. He has taken a tough position on issues that most people would sit out, and is excellent on issues like labor, education, and agriculture, not to mention the hours he puts in working on behalf of our nations veterans.

  29. “But an even more disturbing reality is that there is an exodus of conservatives from the state Democratic Party.”

    Now you know how we feel. There’s also an exodus of conservatives from the Republican Party, thanks to the hacks that call themselves the “leaders” in Georgia and nationally.

    Change be a-comin’.

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