Nate Silver’s blog FiveThirtyEight is doing profiles of each state in a series called Presidential Geography in advance of the general election. A couple of days ago, Silver’s team posted their profile of Georgia.
Silver’s a statistician who started by studying baseball and moved on to politics. Using his own dynamic model of poll results, he correctly called every state but Indiana in the Obama-McCain matchup. For the last couple of years, the blog has been hosted by the New York Times. I think it’s a little long-winded in its analyses, but it’s always interesting. I wonder if the increasingly complex mathematical modeling is giving too much weight to economic factors, but Silver has always been flexible in going where the numbers lead him.
From Georgia’s lengthy profile:
Despite Georgia’s steady shift away from its Democratic roots, the state is often pointed to as the next possible Virginia or North Carolina, Southern states carried in 2008, for the first time in a long time, by a Democrat. And Georgia has been raised again as a possible Democratic target in 2012.
The reason: The number of minority residents in Georgia has increased dramatically, particularly in the Atlanta area. Black residents made up 31 percent of the state’s population in 2010, up from 26 percent 2000, and the percentage of Hispanic residents increased to 9 percent, from 5 percent.
But to an extent not evident in Virginia and North Carolina, there has been a mass exodus of white Southerners from the Democratic Party, fueling the Republican ascendance. In 2008, just 23 percent of white voters in Georgia cast a ballot for Mr. Obama, the same share that voted for Senator John Kerry in 2004. In Virginia in 2008, that number was 39 percent. In North Carolina it was 35 percent.
This is familiar territory. From the Washington Post, in the recent The eight states where Latinos could sink the GOP:
In [Arizona and Georgia], Democrats have flirted with investing real resources after a decade in which minorities have accounted for most of the growth. In each state, non-Hispanic white voters dropped by six points to below 58 percent of the total population.
As white voters trend downward toward 50 percent of the population (and at this rate, it will happen by 2020 or 2024 in both states), Democrats should have a real chance in states where Obama already passed the 45 percent threshold in 2008.
FiveThirtyEight’s Georgia profile has some other interesting tidbits, including the naming of Lowndes County (Valdosta) as the bellwether: “In the last three presidential elections, Lowndes voters have given each major-party candidate within 2 percentage points of their statewide share of the vote.”
As I write this, Silver has Romney as the 96.6 percent favorite to win Georgia. He has Obama as a 67.8 percent favorite to win nationwide.