Gwinnett Is Not As Red As It Used to Be

2012 Gwinnett Presidential ResultsRepublicans managed to not only avoid runoffs in the top-tier Senate and Governor’s races, they had sizable wins, and even took the 12th District away from John Barrow after years of trying. It clearly wasn’t time for Georgia to become a blue state, or even a purple one. Yet, Georgia is looking a little less red than it did four years ago, the last time a midterm election was held.

Gwinnett County has been a target for Democrats in recent years. It is the first majority-minority county in the state, and its rapid urbanization should make it likely to follow Fulton and DeKalb counties in becoming Democratic. It was in the crosshairs this year as well. However, the good news that Gwinnett held on should be tempered somewhat by comparing 2010 results with those from Tuesday.

In 2010, Gwinnettians gave Johnny Isakson a resounding win, with 65.1% of the vote, better than the statewide tally of 58.3%. 51.7% of eligible voters cast a ballot, and Isakson lost 44 of 156 precincts. Four years later, David Perdue received 52.3% of Gwinnett’s vote, slightly less than the statewide vote of 52.9%. 50% of eligible voters participated, and Perdue lost 58 precincts.

The precincts where David Perdue had a lower percentage of the vote than Johnny IsaksonThe map at the top right illustrates the results of the 2012 presidential election. Democrats were the strongest in the Centerville area in south Gwinnett, and along the I-85 and Georgia 316 corridors. The red area between them has long been a Republican stronghold, along with Peachtree Corners and the northern part of the county. The map below it shows the relative loss of votes for David Perdue compared to Isakson’s win four years ago. The deeper the shade of blue, the more leakage there to Michelle Nunn.

Precinct 14, which has long had one of the largest Republican voter turnouts voted 65.1% for Johnny Isakson in 2010. This year, 51.7% pulled a ballot for David Perdue. Precinct 46, located near Snellville. regularly has the highest percentage vote for the GOP candidate. In 2010, 80.0% voted for Johnny Isakson. Tuesday, 71.9% voted for David Perdue.

The turnout difference in the Governor’s race wasn’t as dramatic. In 2010, 60.6% voted for Governor Deal, while 54.5% did in 2014.

Last week, Newsweek filed a story about how Georgia is divided into red and blue. It contrasted GOP strongholds in Forsyth and Dawson counties, with the reliable Democratic areas of south DeKalb and Clayton counties.

In the red state of Georgia, a razor-tight Senate race between Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue is catching some conservative voters by surprise.

“Why is it so close?” asked Margaret Eidson, 77, of Monroe. “I can’t imagine why it’s so close.”

The race didn’t end up being as close as most pundits predicted. But, for those who think Democrats failed in their efforts to make the state more purple, or who think that Georgia will remain a red state as we move towards the 2016 presidential elections, keep the results in Gwinnett County in mind.

15 comments

      • Harry says:

        That’s correct. I work with some of these groups, and based on their values I believe we will get a good percentage of their votes.

  1. Ed says:

    “In 2010, Gwinnettians gave Johnny Isakson a resounding win, with 65.1% of the vote, better than the statewide tally of 58.3%. 51.7% of eligible voters cast a ballot, and Isakson lost 44 of 156 precincts. Four years later, David Perdue received 52.3% of Gwinnett’s vote, slightly less than the statewide vote of 52.9%. 50% of eligible voters participated, and Perdue lost 58 precincts.”

    I would also wager that the power of incumbency for Johhny accounted for a not-unsubstantial amount of the difference.

  2. blakeage80 says:

    Focusing too much on a specific county while analyzing a statewide race is not going to give any sort of an accurate picture in a growing state like ours. People move. What you have shown is that it is likely some democrats have moved into those areas and some Republicans have likely moved out. You haven’t shown that a bunch of people have changed their votes. Progress by Dems in Gwinnett county is probably very easily offset by Rep gains in other areas. Add this to what Ed says about Isakson being an incumbent and the fact that Perdue was not really known for anything and this article becomes a case of stretching to find something positive for Democrats.

    • Will Durant says:

      I hardly think Jon is “stretching to find something positive for Democrats”. As a resident and prominent Gwinnett Republican he is simply noting the trends in one of the lead counties in Georgia becoming a Red state in the first place. Not all of it is due to migrations either by the way. I considered myself a Republican twice as long as Governor Deal has considered himself one but now am firmly independent as a result of Bush/Cheney, local corruption, and Republican social policies that oppose the Bill Of Rights and have no place in government. I am not alone in these opinions and I can tell you the local corruption one is very important to my friends and neighbors in Gwinnett.

      • SabrinaWorks247 says:

        Hi Will:

        You said, “I am not alone in these opinions and I can tell you the local corruption one is very important to my friends and neighbors in Gwinnett.”

        What local corruption in Gwinnett? All of our local elected representatives claim that all public corruption is in the past and has been cleaned up. We do not have an Ethics Board and we do not have an independent internal auditor, so we just have to take their word for it that there is no corruption. Our elected representatives see no need for an Ethics Board or an independent internal auditor, again, because we have no problems with corruption. I suppose that’s why they spent over $50,000 of taxpayers’ money fighting an open records lawsuit to prevent taxpayers from learning how they spent millions of taxpayer dollars.

        And if anyone believes that Gwinnett has no problems with corruption, I’ll be glad to tell them the story about the fox watching the hen house…

      • blakeage80 says:

        A) The article, nor my response is concerned with the author’s political leanings.
        Of course Gwinnett was part of Georgia’s changing politics in the late 20th Century and into the 21st, but only looking at Gwinnett doesn’t tell us much about a statewide race. Since he was only referencing statewide races, I was just pointing out this fact.
        B) Migration is a major factor in Gwinnett’s changing political landscape. Both in and out.
        C) Last night’s numbers indicate a lot of straight ticket voting. If Gwinnett were just a lot of conservatives that vehemently hated corruption Carter might have been closer while all the other races stayed the same.
        D) So you are a Democrat that dabbled in more conservative waters and went back. Congratulations. Independents are never very firm.

        • Will Durant says:

          I’ve got some friends that are going to laugh their heads off at me being called a Democrat as an epithet. I admit voting in many a Democratic Primary because in my youth in Georgia there was no point in voting in the Republican one. But as I said, I identified myself as a Republican for twice as long as Deal has and he has claimed to be one for 19 years now. I worked on the Bo Callaway campaign, voted for Newt in his first two losses to Jack Flynt… Regardless of my bona fides of voting Republican before you were even born none of that matters now. I think you can’t be very firm in your own personal convictions if you can’t look beyond your own party to oppose corruption and demagoguery. It is the weak minded who supports party over the person not the other way around.

          • blakeage80 says:

            No one cares how you voted 30 years ago, or that you are old. In none of these posts have I indicated voting ‘party over person’. We are now very far from talking about Asians in Gwinnett.

    • Jon Richards says:

      If this were simply a matter of moving the pieces around the chessboard, Rs moving to Barrow or Jackson county, while blacks move in from DeKalb and Rockdale, that would be one thing. Much of Gwinnett’s growth in recent years is from increasing numbers of Hispanics and Asians. Gwinnett’s schools are now approximately 31% Hispanic, 28% black, 23% white, and the rest Asian or other. That’s more than people moving around the metro.

      I will argue that for the GOP, an effort must be made to expand the base beyond the pale stale males that make up much of the party, or Republicans will continue to occupy a smaller and smaller portion of the political universe.

      • Billie Islam says:

        Gwinnett no doubt will be eventually be blue. Minority voters are generational. Many first generation minorities like me are voting now and will continue to vote whereas our parents may not have been as involved. People trust people that have a similar history to them. I agree it will be hard to attract future minority voters to a party that looks nothing like them.

  3. northside101 says:

    Gwinnett was one of the few bright spots for Democrats yesterday. In 2010, Deal got 57.5 percent there and won by about 39,000 votes; yesterday, he was held to 54.5 percent and a 23,000-vote margin in the county, which is now just slightly majority white in voter registration. In contrast, there was little change in the region’s largest GOP powerhouse, Cobb County—Deal got 55.1 percent in Cobb in 2010 and 55.7 percent this time, though his Cobb margin this time—about 30,000 votes—was slightly smaller than his 32,000-vote margin over Barnes in 2010.

    Henry looks like it is at the tipping point for the Democrats. In 2010, Deal got 52.4 percent there and won it by about 5,000 votes’ yesterday, Deal got 48.6 there and lost the county by about 400 votes. Of course with heavily (80%+) Democratic Clayton County to its west, the long term political future of Henry is pretty clear. Rockdale, which backed Obama in 2008 and 2012, also went heavily for Carter and Nunn.

    But the Democrats’ big problem is rural and smaller city Georgia. Metro Atlanta has basically been a break-even proposition for the parties in recent elections; for instance, Nunn narrowly (1% margin) won the region over Perdue yesterday but trailed badly overall in the roughly two-fifths of Georgians who vote outside metro Atlanta. When a Democrat can’t even win majority black or heavily black counties in southwest Georgia like Early (which backed Deal yesterday), Mitchell (which also backed Deal) and even Baker County—then yes, “we have a problem.” Even Sumter County, about half black in voter registration, was no landslide for Carter, who only got 54 percent there. Southeast Georgia is even more of a disaster zone for Democrats—places like Brantley (78% Deal), and Toombs (69%).

    So long as metro Atlanta remains more or less evenly divided among the parties, the rural/smaller city sections of the state will decide who wins a statewide election. And that has been bad news for Democrats ever since 2002, when Roy Barnes lost about three-fourths of the state’s counties after winning nearly the same number in 1998. Assuming the rural vote is more or less “lost” for the Democrats for years to come, their only hope is to rev up the metro vote—start winning Cobb and Gwinnett, make some inroads into heavily GOP Cherokee and Forsyth.

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