Report: 300,000 Additional African American Voter Registrations Turns Georgia Blue

Two weeks ago, we told you about Jason Carter’s estimate that he would need an additional 200,000 Democratic votes to win his race against Governor Deal.

Now comes a new report from Benjamin Jealous, formerly of the NAACP, and the Center for American Progress, titled True South: Unleashing Democracy in the Black Belt 50 Years After Freedom Summer. It claims that if minority voter registration could be increased by 30 or 60%, the political calculus in the South would change to favor Democrats.

Jealous illustrated what this could mean in the Peach State in this MSNBC op-ed:

As just one example, consider Georgia. The state’s two most recent governors, Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal, won their races with scant support from communities of color. Once in office, they governed accordingly. Governor Perdue introduced one of the nation’s first strict photo voter ID laws, while Governor Deal has turned down Medicaid expansion and signed one of the strictest anti-immigrant laws in the country.

On the other hand, the average margin of victory in Georgia over the last three elections was minimal: just over 260,000 votes. So what would it take to give voters of color in Georgia a voice?

Our report found that a massive wave of voter registration could shake up the political dynamic. If organizers were to register 60% of unregistered black voters in the state – and those voters then turned out at previous levels – it would create a corps of 290,000 new black voters. That is 30,000 more than the average margin of victory for a governor in the state.

Looking at the numbers, Jealous appears to be correct in his estimate. The table below shows the voting age population and the number of registered and unregistered voters. Population stats are based on 2012 American Community Survey numbers, while registration numbers are for 2013 from the Georgia Secretary of State’s website. with 79% of registered African-Americans voting in the 2012 Presidential election, by my numbers, it would provide a cushion of over 5000 votes. (559,881*.6 * .79 = 265,289) I’ll attribute the difference between my figure and the report’s to slightly different population and registration estimates.

There are, however, several things that are not taken into account. First is that minority voter turnout in non-Presidential years is lower than it is in Presidential years. In 2010, for example, slightly over 50% of African American registered voters participated in the general election. To make that 5,000 vote margin with a 50% turnout rate, 94% of the unregistered African American voters would need to become registered.

In addition, there’s a built-in assumption that 100% of newly registered minority voters would pull a Democratic ticket. The Democratic lock on people of color isn’t quite that strong. And finally, the projection ignores the possibility that the number of registered–and likely Republican–white voters will grow as well.

While it may be more of a challenge for Democrats to use minorities to flip Georgia from red to blue than what the report estimates, that doesn’t mean the GOP can afford to rest on its laurels. While there’s plenty of cushion for the GOP to register additional voters at the same rate a minority registration drive would cover, at some point, Republicans will need to come up with an answer to minorities’ desire for social justice.

Georgia Population, Eligible Voting Age Population and Registered Voters, 2012-2013

Population Type  Population   Vtg Age Pop  Registered Pct Unregistered
Total 9,714,570 6,693,990 4,933,572 73.7% 1,760,418
Asian  319,730 138,665 64,238 46.3% 74,427
Black or African American 2,942,480 2,040,645 1,480,764 72.6% 559,881
White  5,438,870 4,202,775 2,903,754 69.1% 1,299,021
Hispanic or Latino 853,600 230,725 84,458 36.6% 146,267



  1. DavidTC says:

    In addition, there’s a built-in assumption that 100% of newly registered minority voters would pull a Democratic ticket.

    And additionally there’s a somewhat odd assumption that the voter registration would somehow only include black voters. That would be a…strange voter registration drive, to say the least.

    I think a much more interesting thing to look at would be turnout, not registration. That really is where the Democrats tend to fail at. And that’s where the Republicans tend to attack, with voter ID laws and reducing voting days and times and whatnot.

    The first election I ever voted in was the 2000 election, when I was going to SPSU and living in Marretta. The line was about an hour and half. The next election I voted in, I think 2002, I had moved back north to the mountains, and there literally was no line. The longest line I’ve ever seen in voting up here has been twenty minutes. Why, it’s almost as if through some amazing coincidences, urban areas don’t have anywhere near the amount of vote-handling capability.

    What sort of excessive turnout would Carter need?

    I’d love to see Carter win, and I’d love to see more registration and higher turn out (Regardless of what party or who won.), but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

    (Oh, incidentally, now that someone’s mentioned voter ID laws, time for idiots talking about how you need driver licenses to open a bank account and buy cigarettes and alcohol, because they’re too dumb to realize that poor people often don’t have bank accounts, and no, you don’t need them to buy things. They live in a universe where they’ve decided that everyone has an ID, despite the fact we know, as an actual undisputed fact, how many IDs have been issued by the state, and that a large portion of the voting-eligible population doesn’t have them.)

  2. DrGonzo says:

    “…They live in a universe where they’ve decided that everyone has an ID, despite the fact we know, as an actual undisputed fact, how many IDs have been issued by the state, and that a large portion of the voting-eligible population doesn’t have them.)”

    And every single one of those folks can get a free ID from the state with little trouble. They just don’t bother. But in case you missed the recent stories out of south Georgia (and North Carolina, and many other places), voter fraud does in fact exist.

  3. Jane says:

    This is going to be a very challenging election to model.

    On reason is that Brian Kemp has so messed up the voter data this year, I do not trust the racial designation anymore. So many people are listed as racially unknown or other that is is impossible to be as confident as the NAACP or the Dem party in the racial make up of the newly registered voters. That said, it is obvious that more minorities are registering than Whites. Also it is obvious that the turnout for Democrats especially Black Democrats were down a great deal in the May primary. There were 8,200 more White voters in Fulton than Black voters.

  4. saltycracker says:

    73.7% of total voters registered
    68.6% of the 4 subcategories registered

    About 81,000 “others” in vtg category
    About 400,000 “others” registered

    About 500% of the “others” registered ?

    Need a math check or the walking dead vote.

    If any of the story is slightly correct the Republican answer is to begin a massive registration campaign of white folks and forget all that minority appeal stuff !

    Until we come to our senses and represent all the people as equal individuals. Just kidding.

    • Jon Richards says:

      I noticed that there were far more “others” in the SOS voter registration data than there were in the census data. I wrote that off to incomplete demographic data on the part of the SOS. Like Jane said, the SOS data isn’t perfect.

      • saltycracker says:


        Gary Larson just called and the Far Side view says the numbers are correct. We have more “other” registered voters than others of voting age.

        I’ll stand with what Republicans need to do. 🙂

    • SmyrnaModerate says:

      that’s what I was wondering as well, for a second I thought I had lost the ability to do math!

Comments are closed.