Georgia Looks Swingy

Survey USA notes in their freshly released Georgia poll that our state “remain safely red”, what with Romney (49-42) and Gingrich (48-42) both leading Obama.  But allow me to dive into the crosstabs and beg to differ.  In 2008, African Americans made up a record percentage of the electorate.  30% of all votes cast were from voters identified as black on the voterfile.  Whites made up 64% and voters who are identified as either Asian/Hispanic/Indian/Other or Unknown rounded out the rest at 6%.  Prior to 2008, the largest percentage African Americans had made up in modern times was 2004 when they were at 25% (which was also a record at the time).

Fast forward to 2010.  A year when Democratic enthusiasm was said to be at an all time low.  You’d think that would mean that we saw the Obama fueled wave of African American voters recede back out to the ocean – but no.  In 2010, 28% of all voters were African American.  Whites made up 66% and all others came in at 5% (numbers may not add to 100 due to rounding).  28% is the second highest percentage – only behind 2008, and represents almost an identical jump from four years earlier when it was about 24%.  In other words, African American turnout is always higher in Presidential elections, but the increase from ’04-’08 was matched when looking at ’06-’10.  This largely explains, but for some reason isn’t popularly discussed, why in a record year for Republicans nationally most of Georgia’s statewide winners were held to 53% (a win is a win, but hey gotta have something to boost our D spirits).

So what does Survey USA think the 2010 electorate will be?  Only 25% black.  And 67% white.  I ran the raw counts on their website to get the White and African American percentages for each candidate and was able to compute the “other” by subtracting from the known.  Here’s what it comes out to…(converted to percents for ease of viewing)

Candidate Total Whites Afr Am Other
Obama 42 24 86 59
Romney 49 65 9 32
Undecided 9 11 5 9
Obama 42 24 86 58
Gingrich 48 65 9 30
Undecided 9 10 5 11


So remember – in 2008 it was 64% white, 30% AA and 6% other/unknown.  Let’s assume that both whites and blacks pick up 1% each from the unknown category – the state voterfile might not know what they are but presumably they’d be able to tell a pollster.  And let’s also assume that the state in 2012 is basically about the same (in actuality from this point out I predict it will slowly get less white and more Hispanic at the polls with African Americans essentially maintaining their percentage).  So let’s re-weight whites to 65%, African Americans to 31% and others to 4%.  What do we get when we recompute the totals?  We get Romney with a 47-44 (2 point margin without rounding) lead and Gingrich with a 46-45 (1.5 point margin) lead.  In other words, according to Survey USA’s data, Georgia looks swingy.  It’s just too bad they think it’s still 2004 here for some reason.


  1. Ken says:

    The real number that will matter?

    Unemployment, inflation, food prices, gas prices, federal deficit, tax rates, economic growth. Choose one or several.

    • True – and they could change. But I think the current readings on all of those numbers are pretty much factored into people’s opinions. And besides, the household employment survey (not to mention ADP’s numbers) – previously beloved by conservatives – shows 2 million more jobs created than the payroll survey. It is common for the payroll survey to be a lagging indicator – showing too much employment at the beginning of a downturn and not enough at the beginning of an upswing. Not saying anything here – but I think some of the pessimism out there regarding the economy is more based on perception than reality for people. If things turn up at all, I have to think Obama becomes pretty favored. Maybe not here in Georgia, but certainly nationally.

  2. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    Georgia may look “swingy” as the Democrats have enough support to get a significantly large minority of votes in Presidential elections, but seeing as though Southern White Democrats continue to disappear at an alarming rate by switching over to the GOP (as the Vernon Jones article points out) and that the 53% of the vote that Republicans often win statewide elections with is pretty solidified in their absolute and increasing hatred of Democrats, at the end of the day Georgia is anything but “swingy”.

    At this point, Democrats are so intensely hated and reviled in Georgia politics that they couldn’t even get elected to the statewide office of Dead Animal Removal.

    Sorry to crush your hopes, Chris, but it is what it is.

    53% may not be an overwhelming landslide, but at the end of the day 53% still wins elections somewhat comfortably.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Georgia Republicans would never let a job as cushy as ‘Dog Catcher’ slip from their grasp.

  3. I see “Whites” and I see “African American”. I have quite a few white friends who immigrated to the US from South Africa… which category do they fit in, or do they count twice?

        • Exactly. I don’t call myself “Swedish-English American”. Perhaps I should stop checking the “caucasian / white” box and start listing that as my ethnicity on any form that also has “African American”. The country which one’s ancestors may be from does not necessarily equate to skin color.

        • benevolus says:

          What’s wrong with African American? Do you think all Whites are from the Caucuses? Who cares what some ethnic group wants to call themselves?

          Having said that, of course Blacks in France don’t call themselves African-Americans, but then they don’t have the same history as we do.

          • I just think as far as a descriptive term that it’s stupid. As I said, I know plenty of white people from Africa. As I asked originally – do you count their vote twice or do you count them as white, or are they “African American”?

            • Charlie says:

              My South African friends refer to themselves as African American. Mainly because they enjoy the confused looks on the faces of the people who ask them.

              • I don’t think anyone has suggested that term. Checking the crayola color chart, I do see white… don’t see negroe. Perhaps “black” or “brown” might be a better option?

              • Harry says:

                Are we playing the race card (again)?

                We refer to pale-skins as whites, not European-Americans. Why refer to dark-skins as African-Americans? My guess is, blacks would prefer to be identified as “blacks”. Maybe someday we’ll be chocolate, but until we come up with better handles let’s just call ourselves blacks and whites!

          • Doug Grammer says:

            “Blacks in France don’t call themselves African-Americans,” using your logic, should they call themselves Black French? I doubt that you are talking about Americans.

            • benevolus says:

              I don’t think they “should” call themselves anything. They can call themselves pretty much anything they want. Why should I care? Who cares if Doug or Andre thinks it sounds stupid? How many people even knows what “Caucasian”means?
              Andre has completely missed the point. It’s not about citizenship, it’s about race. You can be “American” and “Asian”.

              • Andre says:

                Ah ok, so it’s about race.

                Well, as far as I’m concerned there is only one race on this planet and that’s the human race.

                I find it funny that the only folks seeking to segment our population into “neat, little groups” are Democrats, pollsters, and the media.

                I’m a blood donor. I give blood to the American Red Cross as often as I can. I also have type O blood, which means that my blood is compatible with just about everybody. Now I don’t know who all has received some of my donated blood, but under the provisions of the “one-drop rule”, any person receiving a drop of my black blood is now black too.

                That’s right. Any person –white, black, asian, hispanic, or indian– who has just one drop of black. blood in their body is considered black. Google it if you think I’m lying. And after you do that, keep trying to fit everyone in a nice and neat, compact, little group. Each day that becomes harder and harder.

            • benevolus says:

              And if “Black” is what makes sense, then maybe we should go back to calling Asians “Yellow” and Native Americans “Redskins”.

          • Andre says:

            Allow me to revise and extend my previous remarks from earlier in this thread.


            I’m willing to bet that blacks in France, Britain, Spain, Germany or any other European country don’t call themselves African anything.

            African-French; African-British; African-Spaniard; African-German; when it’s written out or spoken aloud, all these hyphens look and sound just plain silly.

            Black Germans call themselves German. Black Spaniards call themselves Spanish. Black British call themselves British. And Black French call themselves French.

            Only in America do we see groups of people classified as “hyphenated citizens” instead of just plain Americans. If an individual was born in the United States, then they’re an American. Period.

            If, however, that individual was born in Africa, and emigrated to the United States, I would say that individual has more of a claim to the title “African-American” than I do. The African immigrant, white or black, living in America is most certainly an African-American.

            Golfer Ernie Els was born in South Africa. According to Wikipedia, Els has a residence in U.S. state of Florida. If Ernie Els decided to become an American citizen, he would certainly qualify as an African-American despite the fact that Ernie Els looks like a “white guy.”

            Teresa Heinz-Kerry, widow of former Republican U.S. Senator H.J. Heinz III, was born in Mozambique. Mozambique is a country in Africa. To the best of my knowledge, Teresa Heinz-Kerry is an American citizen born in Africa. She too is an African-American despite the fact that she has a real thick Portugese accent.

            Then there’s the case of Trevor Richards.

            Trevor Richards was born in South Africa. He emigrated to the United States in 1997. In 2004, Trevor Richards applied for an award at his Nebraska high school honoring a “distinguished African‐American student.” Trevor Richards, being from South Africa but emigrating to the United States, thought he qualified as an African-American.

            Little did Trevor Richards know that he would run into a bit of a stumbling block.

            You see Trevor Richards is white, and the “distinguished African-American student” award was intended only for black students at Trevor’s Nebraska high school [Kovacs, Joe (2004-1-25). White African-American boy not ‘black’ enough for award. World Net Daily. Retrieved on 2011-12-11]. But Trevor didn’t see it that way. Trevor correctly felt that since he was born in South Africa, but came to America, he’s an African-American.

            My point is this:

            All African-Americans are not black. Conversely, not all blacks are African-American.

            As David Staples said, there are plenty of white people from Africa living in America. I count them as African-American.

            As for myself, I’m an American. I’m a Georgian. I’m an Atlantan.

            I was born in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A., and that’s how I want to be identified.

  4. Jane says:

    When a Democrat gets less than 90% of the Black vote, they are in trouble. If Obama is really only getting 86% of the black vote, they need to worry.

    The section Other includes both Asians and Hispanics. I would be interested in how the two groups were weighted. They do not vote the same way.

    Yes, Statewide the GOP generally only get 53%, but that is when Libertarians take 5 or 6% of the vote. In run offs the Libertarians generally will not vote Dem in the second round. So, the important thing is not necessarily the % GOP, but the spread between the two major parties.

  5. Agreed, Chris, on your numbers.

    And while I like SurveyUSA, they have made a significant error in their projection of the black vote on this poll.

    While I do think the GOP ultimately wins Georgia based on the current scenario (…after all, who voted for McCain in ’08 but now says, “hey, that Obama’s doin’ a bang-up job!? No one…), if the minority vote in Georgia continues to increase in 2012, the election in Georgia becomes close.

    Obama can get into the upper 40s. But it’s a steep sudden climb to get to 50%.

    That said…if Trump or Paul goes rogue and runs for President as an Independent, their entire draw is from the anti-Obama market share, thus splitting the GOP nominee’s natural vote…and thus swinging Georgia to President Obama. An Independent winning just 7% in Georgia may well result in an Obama win of the state.

  6. USA1 says:

    “Georgia’s statewide winners were held to 53%”

    Uh, not exactly…

    Isakson 58%, Deal 53%, Cagle 55%, Kemp 56%, Olens 53%, Barge 54%, Hudgens 54%, Black 56%, Butler 55% and Echols 56%.

    Chris, I will say it’s cute that you are latching on to Deal’s 53% to bolster your argument. When we debated a redrawn 13th congressional district you were adamant that Barnes did not receive a larger share of the independent or conservative vote, yet now you use what actually happened — Barnes receiving a larger share of the independent and conservative vote — to make your case for Georgia being in play for the 2012 presidential race.

    Honestly, your analysis is worse than SurveyUSA’s. Why? Because you anticipate blacks making up a larger share of voters in Georgia in 2012 than they were in 2008. Three years ago I knew the black voter turnout would be lower for Obama in 2012 than in 2008. Same with young voters and the same with liberals. While I don’t think black turnout will drop to 25%, I do believe it will stay the same or drop one or two points. So at least SurveyUSA has it going in the right direction.

  7. Howard Roark says:

    Unless there is a 3rd party such as Paul or Trump running this thread was a waste of bandwidth. Georgia will vote GOP in the Presidential election.

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