County-Level Look at a Changing Georgia Electorate

We’ve all heard the news about last week’s midterm election: it featured one of the lowest voter turnouts since 1942, and Georgia was no exception. While provisional ballots have yet to be fully counted, at present it seems that the number of votes cast in Georgia was stagnant. Only around 8,000 more Georgians cast a ballot in the 2014 US Senate election than in 2010, and over 30,000 fewer Georgians voted for governor this year compared to 2010.

Where these votes were cast, however, has certainly changed in 4 years. These maps analyzing the Senate race as well as these for the governor’s race, generated from state election results, show that votes are being further concentrated in metro Atlanta while areas such as Southwest Georgia are shedding voters. Fulton County led the way for increase in votes (+11,416 for Senate), while Muscogee County saw the biggest drop-off from 2010 (-4,642 for Senate).

Click the image for all 8 interactive maps of changes in the GA-Sen race from 2010 to 2014.

Besides just looking at total votes per county, I’ve also run the numbers and created maps for percent change and raw vote change for Democratic votes, Republican votes, and “Democratic swing” – the improvement (or decrease, if negative numbers) in net Democratic votes from 2010 to 2014 for both the Senate and governor’s race.

In the open-seat race for the Senate, Michelle Nunn picked up over 160,000 more votes than Michael Thurmond in 2010, while David Perdue underperformed incumbent Sen. Johnny Isakson’s 2010 numbers by around 133,000 votes. Governor Nathan Deal was reelected with nearly 22,000 fewer votes than he gained in his open-seat 2010 race, while Jason Carter picked up over 34,000 more votes than Roy Barnes four years ago. These maps show precisely where these votes were gained and lost, and you can hover over each county to see the changes in each. Go check ’em out, and let the punditry begin about the impact of competing Democratic/Republican GOTV efforts in the comments.

Click the image for all 8 interactive maps of changes in the GA-Gov race from 2010 to 2014.

5 comments

  1. androidguybill says:

    This does not prove the “changing electorate” so much. Exhibit A:

    “Michelle Nunn picked up over 160,000 more votes than Michael Thurmond in 2010”

    Similar to Denise Majette in the previous Senate race, Thurmond was a “sacrificial lamb” unfunded and unsupported candidate in a race the Democrats knew they had no shot at winning.

    “Jason Carter picked up over 34,000 more votes than Roy Barnes four years ago.”

    First off, that’s not that much – statistically insignificant in fact – and second, please place it in the context of Deal’s ethics concerns as well as legitimate questions concerning his track record (#1 in unemployment, no progress on transportation on the state level, not even any items on the conservative agenda delivered except the on-the-margins “safe” issue of guns, etc.) that just about accounts for it: an exceedingly flawed candidate for multiple reasons lost less than 35,000 votes.

    The most convincing thing was Gwinnett County’s support for the GOP ticket dropping to 54%. However, that seems to have been counterbalanced by 1. a growing GOP population in exurbs like Forsyth and 2. continued losses among the holdout white Democrats in rural Georgia (the voters who kept Barrow in office and helped Sanford Bishop narrowly win re-election a couple of years ago). And despite what Jay Bookman of the AJC claims, all evidence does point to the GOP doing much better with black, Hispanic and Asian voters in 2014 than they did in 2012 and 2010 (this was not merely in Georgia by the way but a nationwide trend that actually helped the GOP win some seats, particularly Tom Tillis in North Carolina, Rick Scott in Florida and – the race the national media is doing their best to ignore – Will Hurd in Texas). Now while “better” with black voters is relative (i.e. going from 2% to 10% in most cases), the increase in Hispanic and particularly Asian voters was significant, in Georgia and nationwide.

    So the electorate may indeed be changing, just not in ways that necessarily benefit the Democrats. Texas is a majority-minority state, but it is also perhaps the reddest state in the nation, even more so than the homogenous upper plains states (the Dakotas etc.) that regularly elects Democrats. All evidence points to Georgia trending in that direction.

    Incidentally, one of the things that helps keep Texas red: the GOPers who run the state do not bait and agitate the urban, Denocratic and heavily minority enclaves. In other words, “bash Atlanta” sentiments that exist in Georgia are practically absent in Texas, who cooperates with Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin etc. on transportation, education, economic development etc. It goes back to the very good relationship that George W. Bush enjoyed with the mayors of Houston, Dallas and San Antonio while he was governor (and in the process won over 50% of the Hispanic vote and 25% of the black vote). The excellent relationship between Nathan Deal and Kasim Reed is one way that the Georgia GOP appears to be learning from Texas (as well as Deal’s positive actions regarding the DeKalb school board crisis and his making Clayton County a regular stop on the campaign trail touting education and economic development initiatives), and that needs to be continued and replicated.

    • I think the national environment in both 2010 and 2014 were much bigger detriments to the Democrats than any ethics issues that voters may or may not have known about in either year. I saw some polling that quite convincingly argued that as recently as the end of summer a majority of Georgia voters thought Deal was an ethical governor. Like near 60%. Depressing but true.

      I think if you actually look at precincts that are dominated by black voters or have many Hispanic voters, you will find that there isn’t much evidence that Republicans did well with either group.

      If you go to the SOS website, you can look at the voter registration statistics, there’s an excel file you can download that has registration by race and gender for every precinct (and precinct split if it’s in more than one legislative district). Then you can go look up those precinct results. Let me know what you find that shows that Hispanics were voting anywhere close to even for Republicans.

      Also, if Republicans did better with Hispanics, blacks and asians, and the Democrats picked up 2% on 2010’s #’s and saw the Republicans slide off a bit (statistically “insignificant” as you say) that means we did better with whites. That’s a more damaging trend to Republicans than losing a few percent with minorities for the Democrats, because there are only going to be more minority voters (which Dems will continue to win so the net impact is always positive even if the margins are smaller) but there are going to be relatively fewer whites and Republicans actually need to win them by larger margins, not smaller.

      • androidguybill says:

        “I saw some polling that quite convincingly argued that as recently as the end of summer a majority of Georgia voters thought Deal was an ethical governor. Like near 60%. ”

        60% is low.

        “I think if you actually look at precincts that are dominated by black voters or have many Hispanic voters, you will find that there isn’t much evidence that Republicans did well with either group.”

        Had the same discussion with northside101. Not all blacks live in precincts dominated by black voters. And blacks who do live in such precincts tend to be more liberal and partisan than blacks overall. Ditto Hispanics. There are blacks and Hispanics who live in heavily white, suburban areas. Hall County is 8% black. Forsyth County is 10% Hispanic. How did they vote?

        “that means we did better with whites”

        Yes you did. Again, because well-funded (allegedly) viable candidates ran for Senate and governor this time around instead of the retread Roy Barnes, Denise Majette, Michael Thurmond, Jim Martin etc. And also because of ethics issues (60% for means 40% against), the terrible economy, lack of investment in infrastructure, furlough days in public schools, closing hospitals, turning down MediCaid expansion etc. There were tons of reasons to vote against the GOP this time around. And had the Democrats ran legitimate moderates instead of going with the Stacey Abrams/DuBose Porter strategy of running stealth progressives in sheep’s closing, they might have actually pulled it off. But the Dems aren’t going to have such a favorable environment in the future.

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