Georgia On My Mind

Georgia On My Mind

Democrats appear favored to take both seats in the Special Election on January 6 in the Peach State. Polls are moving in their direction, including solid Republican ones. Registration trends since the election favor Democrats. Early voting offers some hope for the Republican incumbents. Republicans have had a huge lead in ad spending, although the gap has closed in recent days. The campaigns have been incredibly negative, with all four candidates attacking each other’s personal character and actions.

Too many politicians think voters are stupid. Words mattered in 2016 when Senator Clinton called many Trump voters deplorables. Similarly, I’d expect a lot of Georgia voters aren’t buying the con to overturn the Presidential election currently being peddled by formerly mainstream Republicans egged on by the President. In fact, it’s unclear if the President even wants his party to hold the Senate, with some speculating that he is trying to lose Georgia.

Factoring in my qualitative view of events since November 3rd, my base case is for the Democratic candidates to win Georgia by a greater margin (perhaps 15-20k votes) than did President-elect Biden.

I’ve assiduously avoided partisan discussion in these political posts until after November 3rd when members of government from the President on down began their attempts to steal an election they could have easily won straight up. The raw political calculus was simple – encourage (not discourage) Republicans to use mail-in-voting, show basic empathy for the thousands of deaths, and show up for work on managing the pandemic. Do nothing else, and the President probably gets the ~50k votes he needed to hold on to Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin.

Some have talked about the January 6th session of Congress as the “first day of the 2024 Republican nomination process”. If that’s the case, it’s time to regain some decency and honor. Americans love the political comeback. Come 2024, Republicans should look to nominate a former Massachusetts Governor and the current junior Senator from Utah. Yesterday, Senator Romney said this, and I couldn’t agree more:

“I could never have imagined seeing these things in the greatest democracy in the world. Has ambition so eclipsed principle?”


Voter Registrations

Setting the Baseline

It’s difficult to get accurate data on voter registrations in Georgia. As best I can piece it together, the state reports Active and Inactive voter registrations. In the table below, 2016 data is reported here. 2020 data here. News outlets reported ~7.6M registered voters which I am assuming includes inactive voters. 2021 special election registered data was reported here by The U.S. Elections Project. This almost certainly has to include Inactives, so I estimated Actives based on the 2020 General election percentages.

Registered Voter Type2016 Election2020 Election2021 Special Election
Inactive1,194,893429,000 *433,255*
* Estimated

Let’s dig into county level data.

Where are the New Voters?

More new voter registrations are happening in counties won by President-elect Joe Biden.

2020 General Election County WinnerRegistrations Since General Election
President-elect Joe Biden42,336
President Trump29,409

About 44% of new registrations have occurred in three counties, Chatham, Gwinnett, and Richmond, all of which went for the President-elect. Let’s dig deeper.

These are Democrat counties – they all went for Hillary Clinton in 2016. President Trump got more votes in these counties than in 2016, ~31k more. But President-elect Joe Biden got 106k more votes than Senator Clinton! Turnout across Georgia skyrocketed from 60% in 2016 to 69% in 2020. Two of these counties had lower turnout than the state’s average, suggesting an opportunity for Democrats in the 2021 Special Election.

Margin of Victory and Turnout by County2020 General Election Margin for Joe Biden2016 General Election Margin for Hillary Clinton2020 Turnout
Chatham County59%56%66%
Gwinnett County58%51%71%
Richmond County68%65%64%

Additionally, these counties represent a demographic likely more favorable to Democrats.

Chatham County55%40%3%2%
Gwinnett County46%32%11%11%
Richmond County37%60%2%1%
All of Georgia59%34%4%3%

Early Voting

Let’s start with the base data. A lot of early votes have come in for the Special Election.

ElectionIn-Person Early VotingMail Ballots AcceptedTotal
2020 General Election2,694,763 1,320,1544,013,155
2021 Special Election 2,073,541928,5593,002,100

Where are these votes coming from? Let’s examine the five counties where Democrats received the most votes in the 2020 General Election:

County2020 Democrat Votes2020 Early + Mail Voting Turnout %2021 Early + Mail Voting Turnout %

How about the top 5 Republican counties?

County2020 Republican Votes2020 Early + Mail Voting Turnout %2021 Early + Mail Voting Turnout %

Some more data on counties representing 50% of 2020 votes by party:

Average Early Turnout Based on Following Criteria2021 Early – Counties representing 50% of 2020 votes

What about early voter demographics?

% of Total Early Votes by Race and Ethnicity2021 Special Election2020 General Election
Estimated based on data from Source

The increased early turnout by Blacks may be positive for Democrats, something Emory professor Bernard Fraga believes:

“Indeed, looking at specific demographic categories, specifically race/ethnicity and age group, we’re seeing a boost in turnout specifically for African Americans that implies that Democrats might have a shot at winning these elections,” Fraga said.


Early voting by age offers hope for Republicans.

Total Early Votes by Age2021 Special Election2020 General Election
18 to 3417%21%
35 to 5531%32%
56 and up52%37%

Assuming voting preferences hold by county from the November General Election, I project the following split in the early votes:

2021 Special Election Early VotesDemocratsGOP
Projected Votes1,533,5101,430,311

Based on estimates from TargetSmart, I estimate President-elect Biden had a 48% to 42% advantage in early voting going into November 3rd. If we use those numbers in Georgia, President Trump was behind by ~241k votes and needed to make that gap up on Election Day. As we now know, he fell short by ~12,670 votes. Assuming the above estimates are reasonable, can the Republican Senators make up ~103k votes on January 6? Unlike the other factors here, I think early voting offers hope for the incumbents.

Any opinions or forecasts contained herein reflect the personal and subjective judgments and assumptions of the author only. There can be no assurance that developments will transpire as forecasted and actual results will be different. The accuracy of data is not guaranteed but represents the author’s best judgment and can be derived from a variety of sources. The information is subject to change at any time without notice.