Taking a Closer Look At Who Voted in 2014

The Secretary of State’s office issued its breakdown of voters in the 2014 election by county and race. Over at the AJC, there’s been a few stories that break down the statistics a bit, but I decided to take a closer look, especially in comparing what happened this year with the elections in 2012 and 2010.

Let’s start with this chart that shows overall percentages of the turnout belonging to each racial group:

Year Asians Blacks Hispanics Other Unknown White
2014 0.8% 28.7% 1.0% 0.7% 5.2% 63.5%
2012 1.0% 29.9% 1.3% 0.9% 5.5% 61.4%
2010 0.6% 28.3% 0.7% 0.7% 3.4% 66.3%

 
2012 was the weakest year for the white vote, likely because it was a Presidential election year, with Barack Obama on the ticket. A better comparison might be made looking at the differences between 2010 and 2014, both midterms with statewide candidates on the line. The percentage of votes cast by whites dropped by 2.8%, with the difference made up by voters of unknown race, which increased by 1.8%, along with small increases in the other groups. Many assume that voters of unknown race tend to be non-white.

One of the major themes of the 2014 election cycle was going to be the recruitment of new minority voters. One school of thought went that by registering 300,000 additional minority voters, Democrats could win. How did that effort change the percentages of registered voters? Here’s another table:

Year Asians Blacks Hispanics Other Unknown White
2014 1.4% 30.1% 1.8% 1.0% 7.7% 58.0%
2012 1.4% 30.0% 1.7% 1.1% 6.7% 59.2%
2010 1.3% 29.2% 1.5% 1.0% 5.2% 61.8%

 
White voter registration declined by 3.8% over the last four years, while black voter registration increased by 0.9% and voters of unknown race increased by 2.5%. For Asians and Hispanics, there was little movement in voter registration percentages. In actual numbers, there were 83,689 more black voters registered in 2014 than in 2010, and 111,487 fewer white voters. It’s also important to remember that a fairly significant purge of inactive voters occurred following the 2012 elections, most of whom were people who voted in 2008, and did not vote in 2010 or 2012.

In the end, though it’s clear that white voters went to the polls much more frequently than did voters of other races, especially white males. In counties with over 10,000 white voters, Oconee, Fayette, DeKalb, Rockdale and Hall Counties all had over 60% registered white voters go to the polls. Meanwhile, Rockdale County had the highest percentage of black registered voters cast ballots, at 55.89%. In addition, Henry, Douglas, DeKalb, NEwton, Clayton and Gwinnett Counties had between 50 and 55% of registered black voters cast ballots.

What about individual counties? Let’s take a look at how voting patterns changed in the three counties profiled in this New York Times enterprise story on Georgia’s Senate race published last September.

Asians Blacks Hispanics Other Unknown White
Douglas County
2014       510 1.3%    15,271 39.6%       414 1.1%       301 0.8%      2,211 5.7%      19,842 51.5%
2010       130 0.3%    13,839 36.5%       324 0.9%       251 0.7%      1,776 4.7%      21,618 57.0%
Gwinnett County
2014    4,903 2.4%    50,866 25.4%    5,692 2.8%    3,623 1.8%    13,362 6.7%    122,021 60.9%
2010    3,927 2.0%    44,917 22.7%    3,868 2.0%    3,014 1.5%    11,328 5.7%    130,540 66.1%
Ware County
2014          13 0.2%      1,430 20.9%          15 0.2%          11 0.2%          101 1.5%        5,264 77.0%
2010          16 0.2%      1,406 19.5%          18 0.3%          15 0.2%            47 0.7%        5,690 79.1%

 
The changing demographics show up in all three counties, with lesser change in south Georgia’s Ware County. In Douglasville, the white share of the vote dropped by 5.5%,with a 3.1% increase in the black vote and a 1% increase in the Asian vote. In Gwinnett County, the white vote in 2014 was 5.2% less than in 2010. The black share of the vote increased by 2.7%, the unknown race vote increased by 1% and the Hispanic vote increased by 0.8%

For those interested in more information, I’ve posted some crosstabs I Worked out here:

Download (PDF, 46KB)

Of course, race does not determine party affiliation. Based on what I see here, the influence of Hispanics and Asians remained small despite the efforts of civic groups to engage these populations. And the effort put forth by the New Georgia Project fell short of its goals. However, it’s also clear that those who believe a white majority will guarantee an outcome that is more Republican than not will need to change their expectations sooner, if not later.

12 comments

  1. Probably one more midterm election away from a runoff based on trends. Or no longer having Obama as the President, is my guess.

    While there’s no guarantee that a Democrat will win in 2018 or 2022, it’s very likely that an overwhelming majority of offices in the Douglas, Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Newton, Henry, Rockdale, Clayton and Fayette region will be Democratic by then.

    That will set up an interesting dynamic.

    • John Konop says:

      Mark,

      If Hillary gains a few points via female vote and minority voters grow a few points via general election/ demographic trends, is not Georgia in play? What am I missing? If so should not the GOP be focused on real solutions on issues like jobs, traffic, schools….in Georgia? The GOP cannot afford female shift in 16….

  2. androidguybill says:

    @Chris Huttman:

    “it’s very likely that an overwhelming majority of offices in the Douglas, Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Newton, Henry, Rockdale, Clayton and Fayette region will be Democratic by then.”

    Don’t bet on it. You folks are overlooking a huge dynamic here: the Great Recession. From 1980 through the mid 2000s, large numbers of blacks migrated to metro Atlanta because of various economic booms, but large numbers of whites did too. During the recession, the metro area still continued to attract a number of blacks (and Hispanics) but the number of whites who moved to metro Atlanta slowed to a crawl, and moreover far more whites moved away from metro Atlanta than blacks. To put it another way, take away the ultra-hot job and booming real estate markets and there was little reason for whites to move to Atlanta. But for blacks, Atlanta was still, well, Atlanta.

    But now that the economy is picking back up, the number of whites who move to – and remain in – metro Atlanta will increase also. With that being the case, the challenge will be for the urban areas to draw enough liberal whites to offset the increase in conservative whites in the suburbs. You could argue that the city of Atlanta is making good moves in that regards, which is good news. The bad news: DeKalb County – which for all its reputation as a huge trove of black voters was also probably the state’s largest population of urban liberal white voters also – is doing their level best to drive whites (and blacks) away.

    • I disagree. If you’re white and you really hate being in a liberal area, you’re dumb enough to live somewhere that you have to drive 100 miles round trip a day to get to your job, and they will continue doing that. Will the recovering economy make places like Gwinnett and Douglas relatively more attractive overall to whites as they were in say the 2000’s? Sure, but even when whites were moving here….
      Presidential elections in Gwinnett:
      1992: 29% Clinton
      1996: 33% Clinton
      2000: 32% Gore
      2004: 33% Kerry

      White/Republican growth already stalled out there even though the state as a whole became much more Republican. In other words Clinton > Gore/Kerry and they still matched his #.

  3. MikeS says:

    Great deal of respect for Chris. Only contrary point is that GOP voters do not want to commute to Democrat runs counties or cities. New jobs are being created in the GOP parts of the region. So Republican commuters will not have to travel to downtown Atlanta to work. Transportation will be an issue, but not enough to change the political dynamics of the state.

    It is harder to increase the Black Republican voter than the White Democrat vote. However, Asians and Hispanic voters are not tied to a particular party. Recent immigrants are also up for grabs. If the GOP makes inroads with economically successful non black minorities, Gwinnett and similar places will remain Republican.

    • John Konop says:

      Agree to a point….Once companies leave or we have less new start ups via GDP growth….because they cannot move people and or goods….than the GOP will feel it more if they do not solve the problem….Jobs, schools and public safety are key to growth….big part of jobs is proper infrastructure….

  4. northside101 says:

    If Georgia were limited to the 29-county metro Atlanta area, it would be purple, if not Democratic-leaning; Nunn and Carter both won (barely) in the region. However, in the other 40 percent of Georgia, GOP rules overall pretty solidly—look for instance at the counties in southeast Georgia where Deal and Perdue won handily—even winning some counties in southwest Georgia with high black percentages. As I stated months ago, it was not likely Nunn or Carter could win statewide unless they carried more than the 4 majority-black districts (CD 2, 4, 5 and 13), and they did not come close (within 12 points) of winning any of the other 10 districts November. Thus in the short term—next few cycles—unless Democrats can make inroads in the other 40% of the state, they aren’t likely to win statewide in 2016 or 2018.

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