The final Georgia poll

Most polls have 400 respondents.  Some have 600 or 800, some even have as many as 2,000.  What if I told you that there was a real live poll of Georgia voters out there that had nearly 1.9 MILLION respondents with a margin of error of 0.0?  Of course I’m talking about the detailed statistics available about early and absentee voters that the secretary of state releases.  A little context is in order.

In 2008, Georgia led the nation in early voting, with a 45 day window that allowed many first time voters to take part.  African American voters particularly took part – making up 34.1% of all early voters – which led to a record breaking total (including election day) of 30%, propelling Obama to 47% here and putting Jim Martin and Jim Powell into runoffs.  That year, white voters made up  61% of early voters, but saw their total numbers increase with a strong election day showing.

So – this year – we only had three weeks of early voting and one mandatory Saturday.  But Georgians packed in nearly as many votes.  With two mail days left for absentee votes to come in, we’re at 88% of 2008’s total.  African American voters make up at least 33.6% of early voters (compared to 34.1% four years ago) while white voters make up only 59.4% (down from 61%).  The biggest change is the unknown voters – they have grown from 2.6% in 2008 to 4.8% this year.

Let’s dig a little more under the hood – overall most early voters are return voters.  82% voted in the last election and 68% voted in the 2010 governor’s race.  But importantly for Democratic futures in this state, new voters are most likely to be non-white.  Only 15% of white voters didn’t vote in the last Presidential race, and only 27% didn’t vote in 2010.  For African Americans, that grows to 17/33.  For Hispanics, 36% of early voters didn’t vote in 2008, and 57% didn’t vote in 2010.  For the unknown voters – the fastest growing bloc in Georgia, an amazing 41% didn’t vote in 2008 and 51% didn’t vote in 2010.

Clearly, early voting is giving opportunities to the new voters who will one day change the electorate.  There’s a reason Republicans are pushing for 2/3 majorities in the legislature – demographically speaking this year is their last chance they’ll ever have, and if these numbers hold, they don’t even really have that great of a chance this year.

Finally, I’m going out on a limb and predicting a big turnout of African American voters on election day as well.  And before you say I’m crazy, consider that while in 2008 African Americans built a huge turnout in early voting that tapered off as early voting ended and dwindled on election day, in 2010 the group closed strong and actually made up a bigger share of the election day turnout than early voters.  And the same thing happened this year.  The final Friday of early voting saw an African American turnout of greater than 35%.  While this most likely isn’t enough to close the gap in Georgia, I would caution my Republican friends that if this is happening in the non swing state of Georgia, it’s definitely happening in places like Ohio and Virginia.  I believe election day turnout will more closely mirror the registered voter numbers than the conservative likely voter estimates that many pollster rely on.

And for Georgia based consultants of both parties – with these numbers, this is probably the final year that Georgia won’t be a swing state.  Bring on 2016!


  1. Bill Dawers says:

    I suspect you’re right that some pollsters’ likely voter models have been too selective. The national polls have been edging to Obama all week (in 12 of the most recent national polls, Obama led in 9 and the race was tied in 3). This might be because so many Americans have already voted — instead of leaving it to the polling firm to project likely votes, significant percentages of respondents are reporting their already-recorded votes. And the assumption that black voters would stay home in large numbers always seemed wrong to me too.

  2. saltycracker says:

    The demographic group of voters we could use a political party to focus on is the $50,000 to $250,000 income producers. The parties give lip service to this group while catering to their supporters across the board with a machiavellian tax code and government obligations/debt.

    Both their actions indicate increasing debt as a percentage of GDP by continual compromise. We’ll keep drawing on the nation’s equity line until we can’t.

    If Obama wins he has shown no real indication of a willingness to work with the Republicans.
    If Romney wins we have another round of potential hope undelivered by the last two presidents.
    If the Republicans in Georgia get a super majority, to the victor will belong the spoils.

    • Calypso says:

      “If the Republicans in Georgia get a super majority, to the victor will belong the spoils.”

      Yes, and we’ll all be the worse off for it. Same thing would be true if the Dems had a super-majority.

  3. SallyForth says:

    And for Georgia based consultants of both parties – with these numbers, this is probably the final year that Georgia won’t be a swing state. Bring on 2016!

    Thanks for the analysis, Chris, and for this comment. I sure hope you’re right about us somehow NOT be invisible four years from now, if for no other reason, to get some of that moolah into Georgia’s economy. For example, this year Colorado alone has reportedly received over $60 million in advertising alone (not to mention paid staff and consultants, mailings, etc.) as of yesterday. We could put up with ads for a few months, go to a few free concerts, and be relevant once again.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      But to be relevant, wouldn’t we need some semblance of an organized democrat party structure?…Something that with the total state of disrepair of the Georgia democrat party does not figure to happen anytime soon, demographic changes or no demographic changes.

      • SallyForth says:

        Yeah, there is that, LDIG. But some good Dem candidates could pull voters, disregard the state party that can’t shoot straight. There is no Democratic machine in Georgia any more anyway, so nobody with a brain will give them money. It needs to be focused on candidates who can collectively build a balance at the polls.

  4. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    “But some good Dem candidates could pull voters, disregard the state party that can’t shoot straight.”

    …You mean some candidates better than the lackluster Mark Taylor (who ran for governor and lost to Sonny Perdue in 2006) or Roy Barnes the retread from an unsuccessful and forgetable past (who ran AGAIN for governor and lost to Nathan Deal in 2010)?

Comments are closed.