Democrats Work to Increase Black Turnout

Heading into the final two months of an election season where Republicans have a not-unreasonable chance of controlling the Senate, Democrats are trying to motivate African-Americans in the hope they will vote in numbers more typically seen in a presidential year, rather than in a midterm.

In a front page story in Sunday’s New York Times titled At Risk in Senate, Democrats Seek to Rally Blacks, Jonathan Martin highlights the efforts of two prominent Atlantans to get out the vote.

In black churches and on black talk radio, African-American civic leaders have begun invoking the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, along with conservative calls to impeach Mr. Obama, as they urge black voters to channel their anger by voting Democratic in the midterm elections, in which minority turnout is typically lower.

“Ferguson has made it crystal clear to the African-American community and others that we’ve got to go to the polls,” said Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia and a civil-rights leader. “You participate and vote, and you can have some control over what happens to your child and your country.”

[I]n an interview on Friday, Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta said whites — or, as he put it, “the majority community” — did not fully appreciate the fury among African-Americans and their desire to register their discontent.

Invoking the mother of Trayvon Martin, the black Florida teenager killed in 2012, and her plea for people to “use my broken heart,” Mr. Reed said he was telling black voters something similar: “The most important tribute you can make to individuals who you believe were treated unfairly is to exercise your franchise.”

Here in Georgia, a recent WSB poll by Landmark Communications showed Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter winning the Senate and Governor’s races–the opposite of other polling that shows Republicans with comfortable leads. Mark Rountree of Landmark insists that’s because his poll is more accurately measuring likely minority turnout.

If African Americans show up at the polls at a greater rate than in a normal off year election, it wouldn’t be the first time, as Nate Cohn of the Times points out:

Things have changed since 1998. Landmark’s poll predicts the black share of the Georgia vote this November will be 29%.


  1. In 1998, just under 2.9 million white registered voters, making up 73.4% of all voters.
    Today, 3.0 million white registered voters, making up 58.5% of all voters.

    Black went from 972k to 1.51m.

    Problem with many, many, many publicly released polls (other than the Landmark polls which show the Ds getting a higher % of white vote which makes up for this problem) is that we know black voters* will make up 29 out of every 100 people who actually vote. So if Dems get 90% of the black vote, they start out with roughly 26 votes.

    That means they need to get 34% of the “other ” vote (everyone who is not black) to get to 50%.

    BUT – in many polls this is getting heavily distorted. So take for example the most recent Survey USA poll. They have the black % at only 26%, and they have Carter only leading 74-17 with 9 going to other/undecided. So 26 * .74 = only about 19% of the total. If this were the actual math on election day, Carter would need 42% of the other (mostly white) vote to get to 50%.

    Of course, that’s not going to happen. In 2010, Barnes got about 19% of the white vote and 23% of the total “other” (white+everyone who isn’t black) and he got 43%. Survey USA has Carter only getting 39% of the total vote even though he is getting 25% of the white vote – more than Barnes got.

  2. Think I’m just unskewing polls? Go back to the Survey USA poll from 9/13/10. They have Barnes only getting 83% of a 23% black electorate, but getting 24% of the white vote. They had him at 38. Deal at 49. He ended up 5 points better even though he did well worse with the white vote.

    Fast forward to their final pre-election poll, they had their racial split a little better (25% black) with Barnes getting 88% and only 21% of the white vote. Still though, 49-39, which is close to the final margin. But if you look at Thurmond or Porter race, they are at 34/37 even though they finished up at 39/42 – 5 points better for each!

    So what it really shows you is that at least in years past, incapability of surveying a large black vote, both in their preference as well as in their makeup of the electorate can really undercount the percentage that the Democrats end up getting. In 2010 it didn’t matter, the Republican still comfortably won everything. But this year it really could. And I would definitely encourage you to not necessarily “unskew” these polls, but look under the hood and see what assumptions are going in to them.

    I will start – the idea that the black vote will be way less than 30% and that Deal/Perdue are going to get 16 or 17% of it is probably making the *margin* about 6-7 points for the Republicans in most of these polls. That means a 7 point lead could really be a tie.

  3. Chris and I have had statistical and political differences over the years. Sometimes he is right, sometimes we have been.

    That said, this is a different situation. Both firms, which have polled heavily in Georgia, know that there are statistical and methodological problems with many polls that have been released.

    Chris’ main point is ultimately accurate: that we obviously don’t really know who will win or lose as of yet (though I personally believe we are looking at a likely runoff election at this point, unless something significant changes), but that the state has changed demographically and it’s time to see some new standards.

    To say otherwise would be …untrustworthy.

  4. PageTurner says:

    While Democrat policies haven’t done anything to merit their election the same can be said for Republicans. The biggest issue on the minds of voters is the illegal alien population and the elevation of their rights over those of US citizens. What are Republicans doing to ensure that our borders are protected and illegals deported? Zip.

    • Dr. Monica Henson says:

      “The biggest issue on the minds of voters is the illegal alien population and the elevation of their rights over those of US citizens.”

      That isn’t the biggest issue on the mind of this voter. Not even in the top ten issues.

      • Bobloblaw says:

        Because you’re a doctor. In fact the upper classes benefit from illegal low wage immigration. Perhaps if a few million illegal immigrant doctors arrived from India you’d feel differently.

    • George Chidi says:

      There is absolutely no evidence that the ” biggest issue on the minds of voters is the illegal alien population and the elevation of their rights over those of US citizens.”

      Job creation. The economy. Schools. Taxes. Health care. Honest government.

      Immigration doesn’t make the top eight in Georgia. There is a tiny xenophobic minority of Georgia voters who care. They’re all Republicans.

      • Bobloblaw says:

        Being against illegal immigration doesn’t make you a xenophobe. Unless you think Barbara Jordan and Cesar Chavez were xenophobes.

      • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

        Anyone who feels that illegal immigration is a problem is clearly a xenophobe.

        Anyone who disagrees with Obama is clearly a racist.

        Anyone who disagrees with Condoleezza Rice is clearly a racist and a misogynist.

        This is easy, copy and paste, copy and paste, copy and paste. Just paint the opposition as a bunch of racists and the debate is automatically over.

      • George Chidi says:

        Do I think illegal immigration is a problem? Sure. So is global finance and environmental pollution and the rise of transnational hacking and racism and the rising belligerence of China and Russia and campaign finance abuses. But I am also keenly aware that, while every one of these issues could spell disaster for the nation (I’d argue that on immigration, but for discussion’s sake I’ll give it to you to make the larger point), that the rest of the country doesn’t place particular priority on any of them.

        Campaign finance doesn’t make the top 10. Financial regulatory reform? Nope. Sometimes the environment cracks the top 10. But not right now. Does Ferguson make racism a major issue? Probably not. Do the Jennifer Lawrence leaks make the insecurity of the Internet a major issue? Not a chance.

        I know what I care about. I know what the public cares about. And I can distinguish between the two.

        • Jon Lester says:

          Most of the world correctly recognizes that we are the most belligerent actor in global affairs, and now we have Democrats throwing the same lines at Rand Paul that you heard about John Kerry 10 years ago. We could do a lot for ourselves here at home with the money and resources we’re wasting abroad for no good reason.

          Having said that, I’m not confident that the next Georgia delegation will be any help to that end.

  5. MikeS says:

    It is getting increasingly difficult to correctly poll certain groups. Young Blacks especially young Black men are very hard to get an accurate sample. That is why IVR only polls or polls that used internet polling are running into problems getting a properly balanced poll. To the best of my knowledge the landmark poll was the only one that included a mix with live calling.

  6. Bobloblaw says:

    Hmmmmm. Last I checked MO has a Dem gov and a Dem senator. And somehow Ferguson still happened. Lewis is nothing more than a race pimp.

    I’ve done a fair amount of investigation into the Landmark poll. Where it is wrong is most likely in the white vote especially women. A poll can have good demographic proportions but still be wrong because the sample polled is wrong.

    • Michael Silver says:

      Let’s be frank about Ferguson: The Democrats planned and promoted these protests to divert attention from their record, which is designed to kill America and reduce our nation to nothing more than just another banana republic.

      Black Americans need to start looking at what is happening around them and stop falling for the corrupt media spin. Significant resources that should go to educating their kids will now go to the children of the immigration cheats. If you are a young black man without many skills, good luck in getting your first job as its been taken by an immigration cheat who works for cash under the table and for less money than the minimum wage.

      The immigration cheats are also killing good paying jobs as well. Microsoft is laying off 18,000 Americans while pushing for more high tech visas. If you don’t speak Hindi and aren’t Indian, good luck getting hired to do IT work.

      Sure, pay attention to a made-up incident. March and riot. Burn the joint down. Just, make sure you vote Democrat and don’t look at your future that they are destroying

      • George Chidi says:

        By all means, describe the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer, essentially for walking down the street a block or so from his home, a “made-up incident.” Get angry that people have the temerity to be angry about that. Insist that the same job-stealing rhetoric that had been applied by reactionary conservative whites to the black underclass for 100 years should be acceptable when applied to Latinos.

        And then ask for their vote.

        When Republicans wonder why they can’t win people of color in any numbers to their side, refer to this post.

  7. Bobloblaw says:

    Like I’ve said, if you believe landmark you believe the following;
    1. The outlier is correct.
    2. The other pollsters don’t know how to poll GA.
    3. GA is radically different from other states where the other pollsters are polling.
    4. There could well be a Dem sweep of all statewide offices.

    Landmark could have done everything right and still be wrong. 5% of polling is simply statistically wrong. Polling isn’t a perfect science.

    • Actually I believe it is well documented that pollsters don’t poll Ga well.

      Polling average in 2012 here was 2 points more favorable to Romney than the actual result. While being 2 points off for a single poll would be within the margin of error, for an average, that is not a good result.

      It’s not that Ga is radically different than other states, it’s that pollsters typically don’t do well in states where there is a large non-white population.

      From RCP, differences in polling average to actual result in 2012…
      Maryland (#4 black population): Average was O+21, actual O+26 (huge miss)
      NC (#7) Average was R+3, actual R+2
      VA (#8) Average was tie, actual was Obama +4 (this is a huge miss)

      I’ve heard multiple pollsters who make $35k+ per poll who work in the South say they simply instruct their data center to make the black vote for the Democrat 90, especially far out from the election because the results are always wonky – especially if you are not using a black call center to call black respondents.

      But you are welcome to keep believing that Dems will only get 80% of a black vote that is only 25% of the electorate.

      • Bobloblaw says:

        most polls missed the margin of Obama’s 2012 victory because they were assuming a electorate that was less than +6 D

      • Bobloblaw says:

        Actually it looks like Survey USA in 2012 in GA got it right on the money. That is one the polls being criticized here.

        “”But you are welcome to keep believing that Dems will only get 80% of a black vote that is only 25% of the electorate.””

        I have no problem thinking blacks will be close to 30% and give 90% Dem. That doesnt make the poll right. Youve consistently had no answer or response to my point that 1/20 polls will be simply wrong. No matter how well they are constructed. Youve also not had an answer for my point that if you take your position and believe the Landmark poll, the Dems could sweep all statewide offices in GA this Nov. The only way Nunn and Carter win by the margins in the Landmark Poll and the rest of the GOP survives is if blacks vote 20-25% for the rest of the GOP ticket or whites really simply love the name Nunn and Carter for legacy reasons.

        If you look at 2010, the entire GOP ticket did within 2 or so points of one another for all statewide offices. Deal ran a bit behind the rest of the ticket. So if Deal/Perdue lose by 4-7 as the Landmark poll predicts, then the entire GOP ticket is losing too. There is no other way about it.

        • Actually Georgia has a history of the down ticket statewide’s seeing different results than the top races that are actually getting attention – largely driven by incumbency. There were few incumbents in 2010, and that’s why most races broke about the same. The fact that Cagle (to pick one example) didn’t outperform Deal to the extent that other incumbents had typically outperformed shows (I believe) that the electorate is hardening with fewer swing voters.

          But the flip side of all of this is, let’s compare the final (accurate) Survey USA poll from 2012 to the most recent Survey USA poll for Governor.

          In 2012, they had whites breaking 72-24 for the Republican. This year they have it 61-25%.
          In 2012, they had blacks breaking 89-9 for the Democrat. This year they have it 74-17%.
          In 2012, they had others breaking 55-36 for the Democrat. This year they have it 42-43%.

          So – you are going to tell me with a straight face that we’re looking at an election where whites have moved in the direction of Democrats by 12% on margin, and blacks have moved away from Democrats 23% and others have moved away 20%?

          In what world does that make sense?

          • Bobloblaw says:

            Youre still missing it. Youre so caught up on demographics, yet you ignore the very possibility that the Landmark poll is off, regardless if they have the demographics right.

            There are two parts. Get the demographics right AND how each group will vote right. So Landmark can get the demographics right but still get how each demographic group will vote WRONG. Id bet the 18 point gender gap for Nunn with women is wrong and the 7 point gender gap for Perdue with men is also wrong. Make it 10 and 10 and the race isnt a 7 point Nunn lead.

            So youre saying that the power of incumbency will see the GOP win 20-25% of the black vote in down ticket races. If the landmark poll is right and the reason is demographics, you cannot with a straight face say the GOP will win down ticket races.

            What I will tell you with a straight face is you are clinging to a outlier poll, from a polling firm with a poor past reputation (picking Kingston by 7 over Perdue) and youre ignoring the fact that even the most carefully weighted poll can still be statistically wrong.

            What you ultimately want is quite frightening for GA. You want a demographic that reflexively votes Dem no matter what to create a permanent Dem majority in GA and eventually nationwide. What were southern states like with one party rule from 1870-1990? Well they were deeply corrupt, horribly run and lagged the nation in growth for 120 years. Only beginning in the mid 1980s with a advent of a stronger GOP did the south finally begin to outpace the north in economic and job growth. A Dem party majority based not on winning debates, having better candidates or having better ideas. But instead of having enough of a certain demographic. Such a state or nation would be deeply corrupt and brain dead. GA isnt Ohio or Iowa or any other midwestern state (IL excluded). When the Dems win there it is because their candidate was better and the GOP has a good shot next time. With the GA of the future the Dems win regardless of candidate or policy. They simply have the majority demographic. We’ll see how well GA grows in the future with such a political system. Maybe ATL shouldnt plan on that 6th runway.

          • Bobloblaw says:

            You would have more credibility with me if you thought the Dems would sweep the downticket races. In states where demographics have changed and impact elections like VA, one party sweeps all statewide offices.

            • georgiahack says:

              Lets take a poll. Who has more credibility: Someone who just showed up, started posting, and had to ask what the PSC was or someone who puts their name out there and makes a living polling.

  8. George Chidi says:

    I worked a voter registration event in DeKalb a couple of weekends ago, at a Walmart on Memorial Drive. We set records for registration. A single event may have added a point or two to the rate of registered voters in the nearby precincts.

    Ferguson matters. It’s galvanizing. We’ll see to what degree.

    • Bobloblaw says:

      And how does winning the Senate change anything with respect to Ferguson? The congressional district that Ferguson is in is Dem, One Dem Senator and a Dem Gov. Yet it still happened.

    • George Chidi says:

      It’s not about Senate control. Losing senate control would be annoying, but ultimately irrelevant. Congress isn’t planning to do anything as long as there’s a Republican majority in the house, which is highly unlikely to change this round. Senate control as well would simply create conditions for lots and lots of vetoes. It may complicate appointing cabinet officials and judges — an important issue, but given how fraught that is now, it’s a matter of degree. And two years from now, Republicans will lose the majority again, probably for good, given the playing field in 2016.

      The governor’s chair is, in my view, more important, since a Governor Carter will block stupid legislation.

      With respect to Ferguson, neither the election of a senator or a governor matters. Jury selection matters. Local elections matter. And that’s the point. African Americans, seeing the events of Ferguson, will want to hold their local leadership accountable for just and equal enforcement of laws. At least, that’s what Joe Voter articulated in conversation with me.

      • Bobloblaw says:

        If Carter is Gov and the GOP have a supermajority, Carter will be irrelevant.

        But it seems the Dems are suggesting vote Dem because of Ferguson.

        • George Chidi says:

          Irrelevant? Nope. In a supermajority situation, legislation depends on party discipline in the House. I don’t think you’re going to argue that the Republican caucus in Georgia is especially disciplined. Take the 10 most moderate districts currently held by a Republican in this state.

          Can Carter win a majority of votes while losing every single house district held by a Republican? Almost impossible. Some House Republicans will be in districts Carter won. And there will be a giant bullseye on their back if they choose to override a veto.

          That’s not irrelevant. That fundamentally changes the calculus of governance and the terms of debate. Crazy legislation will be vetoed. The moderates will be forced to pick — Tea Party of the general electorate. Few if any Republicans have to actually make that choice today because of gerrymandered districts. The more extreme Republicans in the house have never felt like they needed to bargain — they could vote for legislation, or not, knowing that their own vote wouldn’t be the margin of victory. In a veto situation … not so much.

          Hell, even House Democrats would become relevant again.

        • It’s almost impossible that the Republicans will have more seats in the House next time. Maybe the same # that puts them at exactly 120 (with Ind) which means they’d need extraordinary discipline to override a veto. With maybe 1 or 2 exceptions, Democrats don’t hold any seats anymore in areas of the state that are Republican or getting more Republican. Republicans hold seats 4 seats that Democrats received at least 47% in last time but didn’t win. 1 of them is gone forever for the D’s. 1 is in a swing area that’s tough. 2 are in parts of the state trending much more Democratic each year. I wager we pick up at least 1 of these 4 seats.

  9. Jon Lester says:

    The state Democratic party needs to raise awareness that Ken Dious is running in GA-10, at least to tell people there’s someone opposing Jody Hice. He’ll need much more than the black vote to have a chance.

    Then again, this is the state party that didn’t bother to field anyone in this district in 2012, and which is gambling everything on centrist-acting legacy candidates with little more than name recognition going for them.

    • Harry says:

      And yet they really believe that hordes of black voters will turn out on election day to vote for these entitled legacy candidates. The GOP should do some research into genealogy and determine how many slaves were owned by Nunns & Carters. They were from the right area.

    • Lea Thrace says:

      Are we not counting Perdue as a legacy candidate? Cause I do. Doesn’t really sway me one way or another in either the senate or governors race who the candidates kin is/was. Wonder if I’m alone.

        • Lea Thrace says:

          And this is different from 90% of campaigns how?

          Yes in a perfect world all candidates would be of substance. But as I said in a different comment thread, they are NOT playing to voters like you and I who make a modicum of effort to stay informed.

          • Jon Lester says:

            Some modicum of conviction would be nice. I plan to vote for Amanda Swafford and Andrew Hunt for just that reason, because I don’t think the other candidates are so moved.

    • George Chidi says:

      I agree with you, Jon. The party isn’t going crazy promoting Dious, and it’s a pity.

      On the other hand, the fellow has raised all of $31,795 for his run, to date. That’s not enough for a single mailing to the district. His fundraising weakness is all the more surprising given the hanging curveballs over the plate Hice presents, with his rhetoric around women and religious minorities.

      “Hey, Jody Hice said the 1st Amendment doesn’t apply to religious groups he doesn’t like! Give me money; I’m not crazy and I’m the only guy who can stop him!”

      That’s a gimmee $50,000. When this was coming out in the primary, Dious should have been on the phone with every political reporter in the state and the national media covering the race to weigh in. Instead, I find nothing. I don’t know what to say.

      Dious is a good man and the district deserves better than it’s likely to get.

      • Jon Lester says:

        Athens-Clarke County Democrats could be more proactive, too, and even if Dious is better off running on the circumstantial facts of the contest than his own words and actions, it would not, by any means, be a waste of volunteer effort to get that out.

        I haven’t mentioned it lately, but I actually ran as an unofficial write-in candidate for GA-10 in 2012 (before I learned write-ins have to be registered in Georgia). I made some flyers, put them up in select spaces in downtown Athens, kept my total expenditures under $20, and managed to get 54 votes, mostly in Clarke, but also in Oconee and Oglethorpe counties. It was a very lazy effort, and something of an art project, but I’m rather proud of my technical per-vote cost.

  10. dlprice says:

    I am a conservative 55 year old white male who supports Ken Dious. Do you have any suggestions on what we all can do at this point to help him win?

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