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:
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:
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.
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:
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.