Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

The Jolt: In early Dem balloting, black voters up 38% over ‘14, white voters up 68% 


Over the weekend, we mentioned an analysis of early Democratic voters by a number-crunching operative, comparing who had cast ballots as of last Wednesday with ballots cast over the same period four years ago.

We’ve got an update which now takes us through Saturday. As of this weekend, 61,622 Democratic ballots have been cast in the 2018 primary, compared to 40,039.

On its face, that’s an increase of 54 percent, not surprising when considering that Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn, the 2014 Democratic nominees for governor and U.S. Senate, respectively, were close to consensus candidates.

(Also, 2,942 people who voted in 2014 are no longer on the rolls, having died or moved, which fudges the one-to-one comparison somewhat.)

Nonetheless, the results show Democratic turnout in conservative-leaning congressional districts soaring. It grew most sharply in the Sixth, Seventh and 11th Districts -- all Republican-held seats in the increasingly competitive north metro Atlanta ‘burbs.

What this means is that, at least when it comes early voting, Democratic ballot-casters are a more diverse lot than they were four years ago. Ballots cast by African-Americans have increased by 38 percent over 2014. White voters increased by 68 percent.

Overall, African-Americans made up 68 percent of early ballots cast at this point four years ago. That’s dropped to 61 percent this year.

A caveat: While early ballots cast can be analyzed by race and ethnicity, they obviously can’t be sorted by philosophy.

In the Democratic contest for governor, former House minority leader Stacey Abrams has operated on a strategy of mounting an intense appeal to the party’s African-American base, to activate voters who don’t normally
participate in the process, and to bring in more liberal factions of the party – regardless of ethnicity.

The latter effort may be working, but the above numbers suggest the former may not be.

And we may be seeing a back-handed acknowledgement of this in Abrams’ latest TV ad, a minute-long production.

For more than a year, Abrams and rival Stacey Evans, also a former member of the Legislature, have clashed over the HOPE scholarship. Evans says Abrams betrayed Democrats by negotiating with Republicans on a 2011 plan to cut HOPE awards. Abrams said she helped stave off deeper cuts to the lottery-funded scholarship – and salvaged the state’s pre-k program, also funded by the state lottery.

Early this month, Evans, also a former member of the Legislature, slammed Abrams with a HOPE-themed attack ad, which featured a young African-American woman speaking directly to the camera. Abrams is responding today with a direct-to-camera spot of her own.  A key line, emphasis ours:

“Stacey Evans is being dishonest, taking a page out of the Republican playbook, betting you will stay home.”

That, of course, can be interpreted as an accusation of voter suppression. Watch it here:

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Stacey Abrams will be on Maynard Eaton’s “Newsmakers Live” at 7 p.m. today. The event, which occurs at the BQE Restaurant and Lounge at 262 Edgewood Ave. in Atlanta, will be livestreamed here.

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The endorsement train continues: In the GOP race for lieutenant governor, state Sen. David Shafer of Duluth is claiming the backing of the Georgia Taxpayer Alliance; GRA-PAC, a political action committee chaired by former U.S. Congressman Paul Broun and affiliated with Georgia Republican Assembly; and FRC Action, a political action committee affiliated with Family Research Council

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U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s push for the Senate to delay its August recess got a boost over the weekend from President Donald Trump. The commander-in-chief tweeted that the Senate should refrain from taking its annual summer break until it finishes its annual appropriations work and confirms more of his executive branch nominees.

“The Senate should get funding done before the August break, or NOT GO HOME,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “Wall and Border Security should be included. Also waiting for approval of almost 300 nominations, worst in history.”

Perdue and more than a dozen GOP allies penned a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell late last week urging him to keep the chamber in session over nights, weekends and the August break in order to get the work done. “We, and the American people, expect Congress to work tirelessly to restore American greatness,” they wrote.

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A longtime confidante of Sonny Perdue is heading back to Georgia. Heidi Green is leaving the U.S. Department of Agriculture after serving as Perdue’s chief of staff for his first year in Washington, his office confirmed Friday. “Her leadership during the transition of administrations and direction of the department through the first year of our tenure have been key to setting the course toward achieving our goals at USDA,” said Perdue in a statement.

Green has worked alongside Perdue since his days in the Georgia governor’s office. She started as an adviser and eventually rose to become commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Green helped Perdue and his first cousin, David Perdue, start Perdue Partners LLC, a trading company that acquired a regional trucking firm in 2012 that quickly went out of business. No word yet on where Green is landing professionally.

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Sabrina McKenzie, the Democrat challenging Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson in next week’s primary, has a campaign ad featuring a picture of her with Jon Ossoff. The trouble is, we’re told Ossoff never endorsed her. The ex-Sixth District candidate has, however, backed a sweep of other state legislative candidates -- including Henson.


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