Post-election data shows voters did not turn up for Abrams as they did four years ago or for the presidential election. There was a national focus on Black voters, who feared that they would be blamed for the Democrats’ loss but post-election data in Georgia paint a different picture.
Kemp defeated Abrams 53.4 percent to 45.8 percent on Tuesday. In 2018, Kemp secured 50.2 percent of the vote and Abrams secured 48.8 percent.
Exit polls show most Georgians who voted for Abrams were Democrats of color, young and unmarried. While the economy and abortion rights dominated the campaigns, low voter turnout sank Abrams’ victory ship, political experts say.
About 57 percent of registered Georgia voters cast ballots in the 2022 gubernatorial race. Over 61 percent of voters took to the polls to select a candidate for governor in 2018.
“The turnout in the election was very low and because of that, it created an opening for the governor to remain governor,” political science expert Tammy Greer told Atlanta Black Star.
The harder blow for Abrams, said Greer, was the lower turnout in metro Atlanta, especially in larger counties. One major factor is Fulton, the county with the largest population. It is predominately Black and Democratic and was the center of former President Donald Trump’s false allegations of fraud after becoming a swing state in the 2020 presidential election.
“You would think that in those spaces that are reliably Democratic, you would have a higher turnout, which would shrink the space in between the Republican and Democratic candidate, but that just didn’t happen,” said Greer, an assistant professor of political science at Clark Atlanta University.
Nearly 5 million Georgians voted in the 2020 presidential election, and about 524,600 of them were in Fulton County.
Yet, on Tuesday, 3.9 million Georgians cast a ballot in the gubernatorial race, and 419,000 were in Fulton — about 5,000 less than in 2018.
The fallout from Trump’s election fraud claims led to three recounts and questions of election integrity and made it difficult for Fulton County to hire a new election director. State legislators also passed a law that revamped the state’s voting laws. The Election Integrity Act of 2021 made changes to the absentee voting process, added identification requirements for voting, extended early voting, and modified reporting guidelines, among several other changes. Abrams, President Joe Biden and other Democrats criticized the new law, arguing that it would deter voters. However, Republicans touted early voter turnout records in the midterm elections.
Still, Greer argues that Democrats’ demonization of the Election Integrity Act may have backfired.
“From a political psychology standpoint, when you are telling a voter what is damaging to them, then what the voter receives is not to do something. If you tell the voter what the rules are and what they can do, then you change behaviors to the positive,” she said.
Greer said there is a difference between how conservatives view politics and how liberals and moderates do.
“Fear is a motivator, particularly for conservative voters. Fear is not a motivating factor for nonconservative,” she said. “Nonconservatives need the positive, need the spin, need the here are the rules, here are the benefits. That works in terms of engagement.”
Exit polls show 96 percent of Democrats voted for Abrams in Tuesday’s election. About 90 percent of voters who said they voted for the Democrat were Black, 55 percent were Latino, 54 percent were Asian and 47 percent were from other racial or ethnic groups other than white.
Just 25 percent of white voters cast a ballot for Abrams. She was less favorable among white men (23 percent) than white women (27 percent). White voters did not sway from how they voted in the 2018 race, but Abrams lost about 3 percent of the Black vote and 7 percent of the Latino vote in 2022.
Early projections showed Abrams needed to secure at least 90 percent of the state’s Black vote to win. She lost 4 percent of both Black female and male voters compared to 2018.
Georgia added more than 1 million residents over the last decade, and many of them are nonwhite, and if the trend continues the state is expected to be majority nonwhite before the turn of next.
Greer said, however, the issue is not the race of the voters who turned out to the polls but the neglect of the “collective responsibility of voters.” However, she did point out that candidates need to connect with younger voters, 18 to 44 — a demographic that strongly favored Abrams— in the same way, they connect with older voters in a more meaningful and intimate way.
Political pundits predicted that attitudes about abortion rights would be a deciding factor in the gubernatorial race. Kemp is a vocal pro-life advocate who pushed for a bill that bans abortions once doctors can detect a fetal heartbeat. More than half of Georgians surveyed for CNN’s exit poll said abortion should be legal, and 71 percent of those voters favored Abrams and 28 percent favored Kemp. However, just 10 percent of those who believe abortion should be illegal voted for Abrams.
Georgia voters surveyed in final pre-election polls said their biggest concern was the economy. There was a significant difference in how those who voted for Kemp see the economy compared to those who favored Abrams.
Tuesday’s election exit polls show 91 percent of voters who see the economy in poor condition cast a ballot for Kemp, while 87 percent of those who see the economy in good condition voted for Abrams. However, those who believe the economy is in a “not so good” position nearly split on the gubernatorial vote between Kemp and Abrams.
However, in 2018, 80 percent of voters who thought the economy was in poor condition voted for Abrams. Kemp throughout his campaign touted his decision to reopen the state’s business before most other states as a move that saved Georgia’s economy.
Atlanta Black Star reached out to the Abrams’ campaign for comment but did not get a response.