Poll: A snap­shot of how Ge­or­gia vot­ers cast bal­lots,

Rome News-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin McGill

Vot­ers cast­ing midterm elec­tion bal­lots in Ge­or­gia are di­vided over the state of the na­tion, ac­cord­ing to a wide-rang­ing sur­vey of the Amer­i­can elec­torate.

As vot­ers cast bal­lots for gov­er­nor and mem­bers of Congress in Tues­day’s elec­tions, AP VoteCast found that 45 per­cent of Ge­or­gia vot­ers said the coun­try is on the right track, com­pared with 53 per­cent who said the coun­try is headed in the wrong di­rec­tion.

Here’s a snap­shot of who voted and why in Ge­or­gia, based on pre­lim­i­nary re­sults from AP VoteCast, an in­no­va­tive na­tion­wide sur­vey of about 135,000 vot­ers and non­vot­ers — in­clud­ing 3,967 vot­ers and 626 non­vot­ers in the state of Ge­or­gia — con­ducted for The As­so­ci­ated Press by NORC at the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago.

At stake

Democrats hoped to over­come years of Repub­li­can dom­i­nance in Ge­or­gia, start­ing with Stacey Abrams’ can­di­dacy for gov­er­nor. She hoped to be­come the first black fe­male gov­er­nor in U.S. his­tory as she ran against Repub­li­can Brian Kemp. They were com­pet­ing to re­place term-lim­ited Repub­li­can Nathan Deal.

The VoteCast sur­vey showed Abrams with a size­able ad­van­tage over Kemp among vot­ers un­der age 45. Voter ages 45 and older leaned to­ward kemp.

Black vot­ers and His­panic vot­ers fa­vored Abrams. White vot­ers over­all were more likely to sup­port Kemp.

Whites with­out a col­lege de­gree sup­ported Kemp. Sim­i­larly, white col­lege grad­u­ates were more likely to sup­port Kemp.

In other races, two Repub­li­can mem­bers of Congress faced strong Demo- cratic chal­lengers in metro At­lanta dis­tricts long con­sid­ered safe for the GOP.

Repub­li­cans, mean­while, worked to se­cure the GOP hold on not only the gov­er­nor­ship but all statewide of­fices. Democrats have been shut out of statewide elected jobs since 2010. And Repub­li­can in­cum­bents on the util­ity-reg­u­lat­ing Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion ran amid an out­cry over spi­ral­ing costs for the Plant Vog­tle nu­clear plant ex­pan­sion.

Top is­sues

Top is­sues for Ge­or­gia vot­ers in­cluded health care and im­mi­gra­tion, each cho­sen by roughly a quar­ter of those sur­veyed.

Voter Ju­lia King touched on both in an elec­tion day in­ter­view. “Health, I think, is a right that ev­ery­one should en­joy,” said King, 20, a col­lege stu­dent in De­catur. “And no mat­ter your re­li­gion, your gen­der or im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus or where you fall on the so­cio eco­nomic lad­der.”

Voter Ni­cole What­ley said in an elec­tion day in­ter­view that she dis­liked Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s rhetoric on im­mi­gra­tion. How­ever Trump sup­porter Cindy West said at a re­cent rally that she sup­ported Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion stance. “I don’t want to be a state that gives sanc­tu­ary to il­le­gals,” West said.

Other is­sues of con­cern to Ge­or­gia vot­ers were the econ­omy (2 in 10), gun pol­icy (about 1 in 10), and ter­ror­ism (less than 1 in 10).

State of the econ­omy

Vot­ers have a pos­i­tive view of the na­tion’s cur­rent eco­nomic out­look — about 7 in 10 said the na­tion’s econ­omy is good, com­pared with a third who said it’s not good.

A strong econ­omy was a sell­ing point used by Trump as he cam­paigned around the na­tion for Kemp and other can­di­dates.

“I work at a small busi­ness and it’s re­ally im­por­tant for me and my boss, who owns the busi­ness, that our taxes stay low so we can stay op­er­at­ing,” said Kemp sup­porter Ryan Hen­schel, an 18-year-old cast­ing his first bal­lot.

Eco­nomic in­equal­ity was on the mind of some vot­ers sup­port­ing Democrats. Brian Sher­man, 75, of the At­lanta area com­mu­nity of De­catur, said he was vot­ing for Democrats to ad­dress that is­sue.

Trump fac­tor

For nearly half of Ge­or­gia vot­ers, Trump was not a fac­tor they con­sid­ered while cast­ing their vote.

But nearly a fourth said a rea­son for their vote was to ex­press sup­port for Trump; and close to a third said they voted to ex­press op­po­si­tion to the pres­i­dent.

“I think that Trump has pro­moted fear and big­otry in this coun­try and re­ally en­abled the rise of fas­cism and I think to­day is an op­por­tu­nity to turn that tide,” voter Lena Kotler, in De­catur, an At­lanta sub­urb, said Tues­day.

West, on the other hand, ran through a list of is­sues that aligned with Trump po­si­tions.

“I’m con­cerned about the Supreme Court,” West said, “I’m anti-abor­tion, so that is al­ways at the top of the list, and I want to build the wall.”

Stay­ing at home

In Ge­or­gia, about three-fourths of the reg­is­tered vot­ers who chose not to vote in the midterm elec­tion were younger than 45. About three out of five of those did not have a col­lege de­gree. About as many non­vot­ers were Democrats as Repub­li­cans — roughly one-third for each party.

AP VoteCast is a sur­vey of the Amer­i­can elec­torate in all 50 states con­ducted by NORC at the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago for The As­so­ci­ated Press and Fox News. The sur­vey of 3,955 vot­ers and 579 non­vot­ers in Ge­or­gia was con­ducted Oct. 29 to Nov. 6, con­clud­ing as polls close on Elec­tion Day. It com­bines in­ter­views in English or Span­ish with a ran­dom sam­ple of reg­is­tered vot­ers drawn from state voter files and self-iden­ti­fied reg­is­tered vot­ers se­lected from opt-in on­line pan­els. Par­tic­i­pants in the prob­a­bil­ity-based por­tion of the sur­vey were con­tacted by phone and mail, and had the op­por­tu­nity to take the sur­vey by phone or on­line. The mar­gin of sam­pling er­ror for vot­ers is es­ti­mated to be plus or mi­nus 2.0 per­cent­age points. All sur­veys are sub­ject to mul­ti­ple sources of er­ror, in­clud­ing from sam­pling, ques­tion word­ing and or­der, and non­re­sponse. Find more de­tails about AP VoteCast's method­ol­ogy at http://www.ap.org/votecast.

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