December 13, 2016 2:31 PM
In case we had forgotten, there’s a special election today in Georgia Senate District 54, and fortunately for us, David Beaudoin has made a pretty serious hobby out of studying and writing about special elections. On his blog, he’s testing the conventional wisdom that the most dedicated, politically engaged voters are the ones who will show up for special elections:
“…the most dedicated voters aren’t just those who participate in November, but who go to the polls for primaries and runoffs as well. In Georgia in 2016, this means participating in the Presidential Preference Primary in March, the regular primary for Congressional, state legislative, and county offices in May, and primary runoff elections in July. So using the state’s voter database and Voter History files, I identified those 7,342 voters in the district who cast ballots in all three of those elections. If our conventional political wisdom is correct, these folks are our “expected voters.”“
Beaudoin notes that these likely voters are mostly from Whitfield County, (61%), mostly Republican (82%). Nearly half (47%) are over 65 years old, and they’re pretty evenly split between between women (49%) and men (51%). Note: Beaudoin does not provide a breakdown by race, but you can safely assume a pretty substantial white majority in this cohort.
I think the 7,342 likely voter number is too high to project actual turnout (on a dreary cold December day in Northwest Georgia, 3,500 total voters is a reasonable guess) but 7,342 would be a reasonable number to target for a campaign and Beaudoin’s methodology is pretty sound. The edge will go to the candidate who does the best in Dalton and Chatsworth.
Feel free to leave your own speculation and reasonable guesses in the comments.