Why Georgia May Be Bluer Than It Appears – NYTimes.com


Why Georgia May Be Bluer Than It Appears – NYTimes.com

According to data from the Georgia secretary of state, the 2010 electorate was 66.3 percent white and 28.2 percent black. Since then, the white share of registered voters has fallen, to 58 percent from 62.6 percent. White voters turn out at somewhat higher rates than other voters in midterm election, so we should expect the white share of the actual vote to be a little higher. Combining the data on registered voters with census data on the voter-eligible population, I expect the 2014 electorate to be about 64.2 percent white and 28.8 percent black. (Ms. Nunn is expected to win at least 90 percent of the black vote.)

Yet the last four nonpartisan polls that released demographic data showed an electorate that’s 65.7 percent white and 25.7 percent black. Those polls show Mr. Perdue ahead by 3.3 points, but they would show something closer to a dead heat if the likely electorate matched my estimates.

Why do the polls show an electorate that’s no more diverse than 2010, even though there has been considerable demographic change?

The exact targets for demographic weighting don’t usually make a discernible difference in the polls. Neither does the age of the product, which is invariably a year or even a few years out of date. But Georgia is perhaps the single state where it would make a noticeable difference, because of the degree of racial polarization and the pace of demographic change.

How far behind are the estimates? Over the last five years, the white share of adults declined by about half a point a year. That starts to add up if a poll is weighting to the 2010 census, as SurveyUSA or NBC/Marist do. The white share of Georgia adults has probably dropped by about two points since.

Of course, the black share of the electorate might not stay as high in 2014 as the 28.2 percent share in 2010. Black turnout, for instance, might well go up, but white turnout might go up even more. But we can safely dismiss the possibility that the black share of the electorate will crash into the mid-20s — and that’s where several of the most recent polls put it.

None of this should be interpreted to mean that Ms. Nunn is the favorite, nor should it be interpreted to mean that she’s assured to do better than the polls suggest. Changes in voter sentiment, or the possibility that the polls aren’t accurately measuring voter sentiment in the first place, could easily cancel out any benefits that Ms. Nunn might accrue from a more diverse electorate.

via Why Georgia May Be Bluer Than It Appears – NYTimes.com.

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