Turnout figures not very promising for Georgia Democrats

The AJC’s Political Insider has posted an item about voter turnout in last November’s election by race, noting that African Americans made up 28 percent of the electorate. The post cites Democratic consultant Jim Coonan, who, looking at the turnout figures as well as some data from Gallup that also came out Monday, concludes that

the underlying partisanship of the electorate says that Democrats are very competitive in Georgia.

And yet, Georgia Democrats got clobbered. That our base is turning out and voters are evenly split in their underlying partisanship and yet we are still getting clobbered tells us just how bad a job our Party has been doing at persuading swing voters that our platform and our programs actually work for them.

With all due respect to Coonan, I think Democratic optimism about is unwarranted based on the numbers. A few thoughts why:

1. The fact that Gallup’s party-identification polling from 2010 shows Republicans with an edge of just 43 percent to 41.4 percent over Democrats among Georgians doesn’t impress me much.

The implication that swing voters are open to being persuaded by Democrats is conceivable. But if Dems’ chances were even decent, wouldn’t you have expected at least one Democrat running statewide to have come within nine percentage points of the Republican candidate? Yet, none did — and the margin of defeat was in double digits for every Democrat besides attorney general nominee Ken Hodges.

In fact, the actual election results suggest that Democrats persuaded fewer than one in six independents (by “independents,” I mean the 15.6 percent of voters who told Gallup they didn’t favor or lean toward either of the two major parties). In my view, that means those independent voters may simply be less apt to reveal their strong Republican preference than to vote for a Democrat.

The idea that Georgia is “competitive,” as Gallup labeled the state, just doesn’t mesh with election results that included a sweep of statewide offices (again, by at least 10 percentage points in each case); a net pickup of one congressional seat, to put the state’s delegation at 8-5; and Republican majorities approaching two-thirds in each chamber of the General Assembly.

2. One has to keep in mind that Georgia Democrats emptied the bench, such as it was, in this election. An ex-governor came back to run for his old office. Two popular black politicians left statewide offices they’d won easily in the past and were creamed in their respective races (former Attorney General Thurbert Baker to ex-Gov. Roy Barnes in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, former Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond to incumbent U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson in the general election).

And still, this crop produced the severe losses already described. Which Democrat could run statewide in 2014 (there won’t be any such races in 2012) and win, or even run more competitively than the 2010 slate ran?

3. The turnout among black voters strikes me as a cause for concern for Democrats, not optimism.

Yes, African Americans continue to gain ground as a share of the total electorate. Yes, they continue to gain ground in terms of voter turnout — their 50 percent turnout in 2010 was better than the previous three midterm elections, and nearly as good as their turnout in the 1996 presidential election. It was just six percentage points behind white-voter turnout, a smaller gap than in most of the last eight election cycles.

And yet, the Democrats — in Coonan’s own words — got clobbered. I suppose one could look at the steady climb in black-voter participation as a sign that Democrats might not need to make as many inroads among whites and other independents to get over the hump. But that may also be politically dangerous thinking for the Democratic Party.

As I’ve written before, this kind of dominance by one party is not particularly healthy — neither for the dominant party, at least in the long run, nor for voters. Without a credible alternative to the majority party, voters have a hard time holding said majority accountable for its actions.

So, I don’t know that the turnout figures represent terribly good news for Georgians. But neither do I think they can be spun any other way.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Independent

February 22nd, 2011
6:30 am

Our company belongs to a very pro-business group. They supported a lot of candidates, mostly Republican. One notable exception was a congressman from Georgia who earned a 100% on their voting record. This is a conservative congressman, very pro-business, anti-immigration, anti-abortion. But he had one thing going against him. He had a (D) after his name on the ballot. Therefore, he lost. This is more indicative of why Republicans made a sweep; the Republicans were energized and voted in this mid-term election, the Democrats were dispirited and stayed home. Of course, having some better candidates than the like of Roy Barnes would have helped, but not much. This was the Republican’s election. Now it is up to them to do some meaningful governance. How about those Sunday alcohol sales?

Logic 05

February 22nd, 2011
6:50 am

The Democratic Party is the party of big government, more welfare and more deadbeats.

Will

February 22nd, 2011
6:54 am

Let me preface my remarks by noting that I generally vote for democrats in Georgia.

That said, I think it will be a long time before democrats win any statewide election in Georgia and probably longer before democrats regain the either house of the General Assembly.

Republicans will make certain they solidify their gains and will almost make certain they even increase their margins when they redraw the election districts. Although I don’t like this, it will be nothing that the democrats didn’t do when they were in charge and, unlike US Senate republicans when considering Supreme Court nominees – I understand and accept that elections have consequences.

Race plays such an overwhelming role in everything in this state. The number of straight, white males who do not live in urban areas of Georgia (plus Athens) voting for democrats is less than 10%. The number for white females in this category is better but still does not approach 40%.

I live in the suburbs where democrats consistently draw no more than 35% of the vote. Democrats in my area would be better off to stop wasting money on contesting hopeless elections and start working to support more moderate republicans (relative to this state’s republican politics) to counter the radical secessionist republican majority that now runs state government. Although most do not see it – the more moderate wing of the republican General Assembly is growing with the addition of the party switchers and the return of several republicans whose districts having a growing minority vote. Almost no party switcher had a change of political heart – they just saw the handwriting on the wall.

Nathan Deal is a good example of a more moderate republican when compared to radical candidates he defeated such as Eric Johnson and Ray McBerry (I would include Oxendine in this group but this ole boy would say anything, do anything and take any position that would get him votes – he has no political philosophy other than winning elections). Governor Deal was a democrat until the winds changed and he saw that to win, he needed to be a republican. Although conservative, he is not part of the radical seccessionist wing of the Georgia republican party.

catlady

February 22nd, 2011
6:59 am

Kyle, it doesn’t tell me that those “independents” were actually undeclared Republicans. It just makes me think they were voting “against” something rather than “for” something.

Disgusted

February 22nd, 2011
7:06 am

@Independent “This was the Republican’s election.”
And it didn’t matter that their candidates have numerous ethics issues. Acountability is not a concern.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 22nd, 2011
7:06 am

Good morning, good essay. I am far more conservative than either of our senators. I argued long ago on Wooten’s blog that the GA democrats will never be a force by embracing leftism, that a far stronger alternative would be to embrace a libertarian agenda, to outflank the republicans. Democrats don’t listen.

MC

February 22nd, 2011
7:13 am

Wait until the 2012 elections Kyle when the Presidency is at stake. More blacks and Latinos will turn out in this state than ever before.

Dave

February 22nd, 2011
7:17 am

It amazes me that people continually vote Republican down here. It must be the FOX News effect and the fact that the conservative media controls the message down here. There isn’t any balance of opinions no matter where you look. What have Republicans done for this state? One of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, banking collapses, housing collapses, gridlock, air pollution. Republicans only work for people in the highest 2% income bracket and that’s it. Everyone else should be voting Democrat.

Typical

February 22nd, 2011
7:32 am

@Dave

I guess you haven’t seen what your Dems have done in NY, NJ, MI, OH, and the Blue states. It must be the “Welfare, Government take care of me” effect of those that vote Democrat.

Here Spot

February 22nd, 2011
7:44 am

“Everyone else should be voting Democrat.”

uh…ok.

Buzz G

February 22nd, 2011
7:53 am

It has taken a long time, but the USA in general and Georgia in particular have concluded that liberalism is a disaster. Every survey has shown this. And liberals know it. That is why they now call themselves progressives. But they have not been able to fool the American people.

Republicans have finally figured out that they must reestablish their credentials as conservatives. But they must do more than talk the talk. They must walk the walk. We’ll see if they can.

AmVet

February 22nd, 2011
7:58 am

As I’ve written before, this kind of dominance by one party is not particularly healthy — neither for the dominant party, at least in the long run, nor for voters. Without a credible alternative to the majority party, voters have a hard time holding said majority accountable for its actions.

Very wise words, Mr. Wingfield.

I would make one significant change however.

In that first sentence, redact one party to read the duopoly.

There is one party in this country and they have a stranglehold on everything – the business party. With a Democratic and Republican faction. They now work for big business and not for we the people. The massive amounts of (dirty) money is simply too enticing.

That your bloggers think there is any real difference between the two parties is interesting. And that they fight like the dickens to preclude a competitive democracy is amazing. They are owned by these the two parties (read the posts here) and they don’t even know it.

They work for the political machinery, not the other way around.

And as evidence to my point, nearly seven out of ten Americans now say that the two major political parties are failing us.

Duh! You think so?

Welcome to the corporatocracy.

Things are only going to get worse for working class America…

Dave is SPOT ON!

February 22nd, 2011
8:08 am

Dave’s post should be appointment reading.

Logic 05’s post should be appointment reading as well … because it is that sentiment that keeps this state behind. It’s right-wing talking-point rubbish. Georgia is the Republican “Petri dish”, yet look where we are:

– This is a “right-to-work” state, which basically means no unions and no collective bargaining for workers,so wages stay comparatively low. Yet there are no jobs. Why? Because mid-sized to big companies here do what mid-sized to big companies do … figure out ways to not pay their fair share in taxes and use illegal immigrant workers. Trickle down econ has never worked and never will.
– Our taxes are among the LOWEST in the nation, yet we are still cutting education and social services to the bone. This is done even though we are consistently ranked in the lowest 10 percent in all educational indicators, which is a major deterrent to corporations relocating here.
– And the ratings for the likes of FOX News, Limbaugh, Hanity, Beck et al continue to be rock solid.

For Georgians to keep voting overwhelmingly for Republicans in the face of all of this speaks volumes about the level of intelligence of our electorate here, and plays directly into the national narrative about the south: a bunch of meth-smoking, wife-beating, tobacco-spittin’, Civil War-reenacting, trailer-dwelling, Bible-thumping hypocritical neanderthals who continue to believe that if they keep voting for Republicans, they will one day rise into the socioeconomic class that Republicans TRULY care about — the upper 2 to 5 percent of income earners. It’s a self-loathing philosophy, like that of a slave who thinks his owner/master actually has his/her best interests at heart.

God help us!

RWJR

February 22nd, 2011
8:09 am

@ Typical
Watch and see how those states rebound faster than GA it’s a recession. GA’s transportation issues and we can’t get the State and the city of atlanta to work together. I wonder why. The more important factor is checking the eduacation level of all these conservatives in rural GA voting against their own best interest.

OPEN YOUR EYES

February 22nd, 2011
8:09 am

What do people not understand about politics in this state… the Democrats are really just moderate conservatives. The Republicans are nutjobs that cater to the extreme religious right and instead of tackling major problems, will just pass more stupid bills like guns in churches… but we can’t vote to buy beer and wine on Sundays! The Republicans in GA will continue to turn GA into a nanny state and their lack of willingness to invest will kill our economy.

Hopefully people will see the light and go back to voting Democrat like they have been since Reconstruction! Afterall, it was the Democrats in this state that made GA into what was the most progressive state in the South. Now we are becoming more like Mississippi (news flash – nobody wants to live there!) and the title of most progressive goes to North Carolina. Watch them reap all the benefits of that perception while GA turns into a steaming pile of cow dung.

Still Waiting For the Trickle Down

February 22nd, 2011
8:14 am

Mid-terms always go the Republicans’ way. Democratic voters are too lazy to vote in elections that aren’t featuring something glitzy, like determining the President.

Republicans were hurling epithets at Obama before Inauguration Day. They spent 2 years berating his performance (which was simply inheriting the Bush mess). It’s no wonder they won in 2010. Just like in 2008, that election was more about displeasure with the status quo, and not some sort of “mandate” requiring a sea change in policy. Tea partiers aren’t as influencial as they believe themselves to be.

Ray

February 22nd, 2011
8:24 am

Nothing like the song “big government” to con the dumbsh!t white-trash into voting against themselves :)

Cutty

February 22nd, 2011
8:24 am

Why is every person who identifies considered somehow a deadbeat by backwoods Jawja voters? I have a Masters degree, go to work even when I don’t want to, and pay my bills on time. For someone outside of Metro Atlanta to call me a deadbeat while taking money out of my pocket to build a road to nowhere is insulting.

Can’t bring myself to vote for a republican. Look at the lot that are in charge now. If they’re all for small government, why was Sunday liquor sales put on the shelf for yet another year? You can switch the word tax with fee and fool these yokels, but to me its a tax. The repubs are in charge of the house now, and I have yet to see a bill voted on that deals with immigration, jobs, or any other code word used during an election year. The demise of democrats may just be due to the uneducated masses who vote cut and spend wolves dressed as small government sheep. Remember while you’re yapping about taxes, we’re paying the least amount since the 50s morons.

Typical

February 22nd, 2011
8:28 am

Dave is SPOT ON!

February 22nd, 2011
8:08 am

And you don’t have to live here.

JF McNamara

February 22nd, 2011
8:29 am

Kyle, I pretty much agree with that assessment, but I don’t think its that dire in terms of imbalance. The actions of a lot of Republicans indicate that they are actually Democrats who got the (R) by their name to get elected. The lack of Democrats actually helps them be moderate since they have nothing to prove to the psycho part of their base.

I do think that the Republicans need to be careful with their monopoly. Their idealogy is about cutting the budget, and a lot of their constituents depend on what they cut. Saying it is one thing, doing it loses votes.

JW

February 22nd, 2011
8:30 am

Race counting; race baiting; race whoring; covert servitude; and playing non-caucasians for fools is at the root of the democrat party demise. I love it that libs are so dense on this matter. Lose fools.

Typical

February 22nd, 2011
8:31 am

Ray

February 22nd, 2011
8:24 am
Nothing like the song “big government” to con the dumbsh!t white-trash into voting against themselves

Glad to see you’re one of those “tolerant”, “caring”, “non-stereotyping” Liberals.

Typical

February 22nd, 2011
8:33 am

RWJR

February 22nd, 2011
8:09 am

Check your facts. Those states have been “sinking ships” for years.

Dr. Stan--(The Black One)

February 22nd, 2011
8:35 am

Chuck Allison

February 22nd, 2011
8:35 am

The democrats had one huge liability, Obama! When our national leader cannot even tell when the purse is empty, but just keeps on spending, folks lose confidence in him. The only thing Obama has going for him is his skin color. A large per centage of the votors will vote for him simply because he is black and in spite of the fact that he is incompetent.

Oh yeah, for those who wonder, the reason for the failure of Sunday alcohol sales is because it is more dangerous than heroin or cocaine, in terms of accidental death and broken homes. The democrats who consider themselves to be “intellectual elite” just overlook the truth.

Dr. Stan--(The Black One)

February 22nd, 2011
8:36 am

Ray

February 22nd, 2011
8:36 am

Cutty – the Grand Old Party has become the Great Oligarchy Plan. That ought answer just about any questions you might have.

And what does the Plan needs to succeed? It needs a wealth of snake-oil consumers. Georgia is amongst tops in the nation at supplying these idiot votes…as well as tops is teen pregnancy, meth use, DUI, and obesity.

A model Red State – ‘Welcome to Georgia – home of the stupid, drunk, fat, slutty idiot’ :)

Typical

February 22nd, 2011
8:40 am

Ray

February 22nd, 2011
8:36 am

… – ‘Welcome to Georgia – home of the stupid, drunk, fat, slutty idiot’

I’m sure that would change if you left the state.

Ray

February 22nd, 2011
8:42 am

At least the rightwing’s not pretending to be Christian anymore.

That whole shtick of hiding in Church while giving the rest of the country the finger was getting old.

Seriously though, how does the rightwing tea-bag without balls?

Typical

February 22nd, 2011
8:45 am

Seriously though, how does the rightwing tea-bag without balls?

Barney Frank.

Ray

February 22nd, 2011
8:45 am

Typical – I don’t live in the state…you believing one has to live in the state to access ajc.com has made this a beautiful morning – thank you :)

JW

February 22nd, 2011
8:47 am

@Dave

Step away from the bar.

Typical

February 22nd, 2011
8:50 am

Ray, you’re right, knowing you do not live in this state, has made it a beautiful morning!

Still Waiting For the Trickle Down

February 22nd, 2011
8:52 am

Oh, come on.

If the Democrats had run Hillary, the right wing would have been lambasting her instead of Obama.

It has nothing to do with the man or his policies.

He is a Democrat. Thus, he is roundly despised by the Republican voter.

GWB spent us into this cataclysm, yet nary a word from the right wing. Terrorism was all we heard about for 8 years.

Elect a Democrat, and our economic woes moved to front and center. Terrorism? War?

Not so important anymore.

JW

February 22nd, 2011
8:57 am

Bushophobia. Is that all you have? And for the record, it isn’t that the lib candidates are dems. Rather it is that their ideas and policy suggestions are pathetic and destructive in the big picture.

Still Waiting For the Trickle Down

February 22nd, 2011
9:01 am

Clintonophobia. That is all you HAD.

I hate to break this to you, but your short term memory loss is an indication of instability. Your opinions are dubious because of it.

Still Waiting For the Trickle Down

February 22nd, 2011
9:03 am

And for the record, the Republicans have NEVER implemented the principles they espouse.

They talk a good game and work their flock into a frothy frenzy, but at time of pay-off, the best they can muster is a meager trickle down.

JW

February 22nd, 2011
9:03 am

@ Trickle me Elmo
No, I don’t want to meet you on th eplayground at recess.

James West

February 22nd, 2011
9:08 am

Dave@7:17 made a good point.

As somebody who also consistently votes for Democrats, when I turn on the radio in Atlanta, no matter how many times I change the channel, I can only get one side of the political spectrum. Sadly, what I hear is colored with scientifically tested rhetoric, frequent misrepresentations, and sometimes outright lies.

In addition, the Republican Party has it’s own propaganda channel in Fox, and in an effort to compete, the news and cable channels, with limited exceptions, are presenting the Republican point-of-view as primary while giving little or no respect to the Democratic point-of-view (Obviously, Wisconsin is getting heavy coverage, but I’m talking about the pundits and politicians that appear on these shows plus the slant that stories are given as well as the stories that are NOT covered).

For the record, I should point out that liberals and progressives don’t particularly like NPR or PBS. They’re just the lesser of the evils because they don’t have to rely exclusively on corporate funding. Media consolidation and corporate/advertiser influence over how the news is reported has also led to, at best, an electorate that mostly hears the spin on the issues from the perspective of the wealthiest among us and thinks nothing about leaving us uninformed or misinformed about important information.

If a liberal media ever existed, it’s on life support by way of three hours of programming on one cable channel (O’Donnell, Maddow, and Schultz). Otherwise, the progressive/liberal viewpoint isn’t heard on the radio or television.

If we had a liberal media, we’d be talking about solutions to the fact that health care in this country costs about twice as much as it does in other industrialized countries instead of presenting slashing Medicare benefits as the only solution to rising Medicare costs.

If we had a liberal media, we’d be talking about extending the life of social security by raising the cap on the social security tax instead of falsely insisting that social security is in crisis, and insisting that we must cut benefits for future retirees.

If we had a liberal media, we’d be talking about cutting tens of billions, potentially hundreds of billions, in wasteful military spending instead of nickel-and-diming the poor and the middle class with cuts that have little short-term effect and zero long-term effect on our deficits.

If we had a liberal media, to reduce the deficit, we’d be talking primarily about creating jobs and growing the economy, thereby reinstating government revenues to their former glory. Instead the media is focusing on the “necessity” of cutting spending on programs affecting the poor and middle class and enacting cuts that would eliminate nearly a million more jobs, as the budget that Republicans just passed would do.

If we had a liberal media, people would be informed about the influence that corporate money has over elections, and would be marching in the streets to rescind corporate personhood. Under Citizen’s United, corporate personhood was recently expanded by the Republican appointees on the Supreme Court so that those, not only having the most money, but now HAVING ACCESS TO the most money by reaching into their corporate treasuries, end up having the most speech.

Jefferson

February 22nd, 2011
9:09 am

It like you say, nobody holds them responsible for doing nothing. The GOP has no credibility.

JW

February 22nd, 2011
9:14 am

Oh but a group was indeed held responsible back in November. It just wasn’t to your liking I’m afraid.

Typical

February 22nd, 2011
9:20 am

James West

February 22nd, 2011
9:08 am

“If we had a liberal media….”

Where have you been? You’ve had a liberal media for years. ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and certainly MSNBC.
If the people wanted a liberal media, the free market would have one (or more). It’s been tried (Air America), and like most liberal ideas, it fails.

Intown

February 22nd, 2011
9:24 am

Yes. I don’t see the Dems making much ground in any statewide elected office anytime soon. Keep in mind though that 2010 was a high water mark year for Republicans. More telling is that Dems could not take any statewide elections in which their candidate was not an incumbent in 2006 and 2008. It’s hard to be a blue dot in Georgia.

DannyX

February 22nd, 2011
9:27 am

“Rather it is that their ideas and policy suggestions are pathetic and destructive in the big picture.”

Here’s your chance, fill us in on all the Republican accomplishments from the Bush years and the Sonny years in Georgia.

Lets start with Georgia….

Atlanta transportation
Ethics reform
Water problems
Banking woes
Property tax increase
Sunday alcohol sales
35% metro Atlanta tax collections leaves area

Sonny Perdue was an ethics disaster, Glenn Richardson was an ethics disaster, Nathan Deal is bankrupt and protected his no-bid government contract. Linda Schrenko is in jail, Oxendine is still making headlines, Ralston is an ethics disaster.

What are the policies from 8 years of Bush and Perdue that set them apart from the Dems?

Go ahead, we’re waiting. What are the big Republican accomplishments?

Dave is SPOT ON!

February 22nd, 2011
9:28 am

@Typical:

Oh, but I WILL continue to live here! I was born and raised in the midwest, but came here for college and met my wife, an Atlanta native. Her family has its roots here going back to slavery (her great-great grand parents were born slaves).

So you see, Typical, my family and I have just as much of a right — and I would argue even MORE OF A RIGHT (since the foundation of this state was built on free, slave labor) — to live in Georgia as you do. Our ancestors paid the highest price for me to be here and speak my mind. And while I’m here, I will continue to honor their sacrifice by calling out ignorance where it is present. And voting against your own self interests is ignorant.

JW

February 22nd, 2011
9:35 am

“Here’s your chance, fill us in on all the Republican accomplishments from the Bush years and the Sonny years in Georgia.”

Denying the libtards a victory in statewide races. BOO! Off to work now. Have the day of your choosing

StJ

February 22nd, 2011
9:42 am

“voting against your own self interests is ignorant”

I love these bloggers who can determine what my self interests are and also access my voting record to see that I did, in fact, vote against them.

Back on topic…

“and yet we are still getting clobbered tells us just how bad a job our Party has been doing at persuading swing voters that our platform and our programs actually work for them”

And I suppose Yugos quit being sold here because their marketing efforts were a failure.

I didn’t buy a Yugo in the 80s, and I’m not voting for any Democrats anytime soon, either.

wallbanger

February 22nd, 2011
9:58 am

All those black voters must be in DeKalb, because in spite of all common sense and good economic judgment we still get idiots for congressmen. Of course they are black because a white has no chance of winning in DeKalb. Try to convince me it isn’t all just race.

Typical

February 22nd, 2011
9:58 am

Dave is SPOT ON!

February 22nd, 2011
9:28 am

As StJ mentioned, it amazes me that you know MY self-interests. Please explain.
And exactly where did I say you didn’t have a “right” to live here? And you say you have “MORE OF A RIGHT”??? You do? How’s that? You don’t know me. As for your “calling out ignorance”, you are showing it.