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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Early Voting in Georgia -- What Does It Mean?

As of yesterday, the number of early voters in the special election in the sixth district of Georgia is 119,500.  This is an extraordinarily heavy vote for a special election.  In the first round/primary for the seat in April the total of all votes cast was just over 190,000.  There are two more days of early voting to go, and then there's election day.  Barring some strange turn of events, there may be over a quarter of a million votes cast.  Total turnout could even exceed 50% of the registered voters.  While that may sound low, keep in mind that during a midterm election, turnout in this district is normally in the high 30's percentage.

So what does this mean?  Most people think that a higher turnout favors the GOP candidate because so many in this district normally vote Republican.  That, however, may be wrong.  Maybe the Democrats are correct that a surge of anti-Trump fervor will bring all manner of new voters to the polls which will help the Democrat.  After all, that Democrat has already spent more on this election than any other candidate for congress in history.  Of course, since over 95% of the Democrat's money comes from outside the state, the huge amount of spending could actually hurt his prospects.

We do have some information about the breakdown of the early vote.  Normally, early voting finds the Democrats getting out more of their voters with Republicans tending to vote more on election day.  Among the first 25,000 early voters, however, the Republicans tallied votes from almost 50% more voters than the Democrats did.  We also know that among that same group of early voters, the turnout among older voters (above 50) was substantially higher than it was among younger voters.  This too should mean a Republican leaning vote.  The polls on this race show the Republican winning handily among older voters with the Democrat leading among younger voters.

Now, we've had a further development which could lead to even higher voting levels.  The Republican candidate was the recipient of threatening letters accompanied by a package containing a suspicious substance.  Given the armed attack on the congressional GOP baseball practice yesterday, this latest threat could bolster the resolve of GOP voters to go out and show their support.  It may be that the attacker has unwittingly given the victory to the GOP.

We'll know the answer in just a few days. 

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