Teri posted earlier about how Hillary Clinton was able to defeat Donald Trump in Cobb County, and how the Democrats got a lot closer to Republicans than they had previously in other races. I wanted to do the same thing for Gwinnett, plus do a post mortem on some of the other races. Sometimes, though, a picture is worth a thousand words.
I mapped out Gwinnett County’s presidential vote at the precinct level for 2012 and 2016. The darkest shades of blue and red represent the strongest vote for that party’s candidate, while the lightest shades are precincts where the two candidates were almost tied. It goes without saying the the county has become more Democratic over the last four years.
In 2008, John McCain earned the support of 54.5% of Gwinnett’s voters, with 158,746 votes. In 2012, Mitt Romney got 53.8% of the vote with a total of 159,855 votes, a slight increase in voters, and a slight decrease in the share of the vote. For 2016, Donald Trump got 146,463 votes, or 45.2% of the votes cast. The number of white registered voters declined by 1.7% since 2014; I would imagine that amount is greater since 2012. For the first time, whites make up less than 50% of registered voters.
How much of this decline is due to a shifting population and how much of it is due to the very unusual nature of the race is difficult to tell. Senator Johnny Isakson barely fell below 50% in Gwinnett, with 49.8% of the vote, or 154,019 votes, which is four points higher on average than Trump. He defeated Jim Barksdale by 4.47 points. The last time Isakson ran, in 2010, he got 62.4% with 121,180 votes.
Of the three significantly contested House races, the only one to flip was the contest between Sam Park and Valerie Clark in District 101. Park won by 445 votes out of 20,843 votes cast. Trump lost all but two of the precincts in the district, getting only 41% of the vote Isakson did better, with 45%, and Clark did better than both, with 49%. In the end, the Democrats were very interested in getting Park elected. Not only was this seat held by a Democrat before it was won by Clark, having a gay male Korean Democrat in office is a nice prize for them. Yet it’s interesting to note that the strongest support for Park came from the three Martins precincts on the south side of the district, while the larger Korean population is in the northern precincts.
A strong showing with mail in absentee ballots sent Republican Joyce Chandler back to the Gold Dome for another term. Chandler was considered one of the most vulnerable state reps this cycle. Her district contains several split precincts, so exact comparisons to how her constituents voted won’t be done, but Trump got about 41.1% of the vote. She won by 232 votes over Donna McLeod. The outcome of battle for the open seat formerly held by BJay Pak was never seriously in doubt, as Republican Clay Cox defeated Democrat T.R. Radjabov by six points 11,683 to 10,491.
The two county commission seats were won easily by their Republican incumbents. Democrat Jim Shealey, who ran on a platform of bringing rail transit to the county, lost by a 53 to 47% margin to Charlotte Nash. Meanwhile, the county’s SPLOST was on the ballot. Some worried that the six year term of the one percent sales tax would doom it, but the measure passed 63%-37%. Passing that tax, ironically, could open up the way for improved transit in the county. Chairman Nash had viewed passing the SPLOST as an important prerequisite to expanding transit service.