ATLANTA | Anyone wishing a bigger say in government should vote Tuesday since signs of an unusually low turnout suggest every vote cast might carry more meaningful consequences.
“We are closing in on what appears likely to be a very weak, or low-voter-turnout primary on May 20,” said pollster Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage. “We are now thinking that the actual vote on Tuesday could be at least 100,000 votes fewer than it was in the GOP primary of 2010, which was our last midterm and gubernatorial cycle.”
Early expectations are for an about a 16-percent voter turnout, which is less than half of the likely turnout in November.
The Republicans have contested races for U.S. senator, governor, superintendent of schools, public-service commissioner, congress in districts like the 1st, 10th and 12th, and a handful of legislative districts.
Democrats’ main decisions are for Senate, insurance commissioner, superintendent and secretary of state. Since the heaviest advertising has been for the GOP Senate race, that’s drawing the most voters. In early voting, two of every three ballots cast were in the Republican primary.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Republicans will dominate in the general election because the Democratic governor’s race isn’t contested and their Senate primary is so lopsided in favor of Michelle Nunn that many Democrats may see little reason to bother voting.
On the other hand, heated mayoral races in Athens, Augusta and Columbus are driving turnout. As a result, Muscogee and Richmond were two of the five top counties in terms of early voting turnout. Already 8,500 people have voted in Columbus and 7,100 in Augusta, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, which didn’t release the Clarke County figures.
Candidates are doing what they can in the remaining hours to spur turnout. Most spent the weekend bouncing from one rally to another, and the statewide contenders who have the money will zoom around Georgia by plane on Monday. All the while, they are airing TV ads, sending mailers and having volunteers and machines call supporters.