Over at the New York Times’s new data journalism hub, The Upshot, Nate Cohn has cast doubt on the accuracy of recent polling in Georgia’s US Senate race.
Specifically, he notes:
Recent polls are most likely underestimating the share of voters who are black, along with Ms. Nunn’s share of the vote.
And he has the numbers to back it up. Even if we assume the electorate will remain unchanged from 2010 (the closest midterm election), the distribution of voters in this election would stand at 66.3 percent white and 28.2 percent black.
That’s at odds with most of the polling in Georgia so far.
But a lot has changed in four years, and the white population as a proportion of voting-age adults is shrinking by half a percentage point each year, causing a gradual erosion of the Republican Party’s base here in Georgia.
Accounting for the changes since 2010, Cohn paints a different picture of the 2014 electorate:
Combining the data on registered voters with census data on the voter-eligible population, I expect the 2014 electorate to be about 64.2 percent white and 28.8 percent black.
If pollsters used those figures, Cohn says the US Senate race would be a “dead heat.”
Of course, our friend at the New York Times makes a lot of assumptions. For example, that Nunn will win 90% of the African-American vote, that minorities will turn out to vote at least as much as they did in 2010, and that underrepresented populations were actually able to register to vote in the first place by the Oct. 6 deadline.
But one thing is clear: Georgia’s population is changing, even if our pollsters are not.