Democrat Dan Matthews ran slightly weaker in his home county of Oconee yesterday than did Democrat Suzy Compere from Morgan County in November of 2010, but Matthews managed to come in second in the special election for the 113th Georgia House seat by doing considerably better in Clarke County than Compere did.
Matthews got 18.7 percent of the vote in Oconee County in the race against three Republicans while Compere got 20.0 percent in her race against Republican Hank Huckaby last year in Oconee County.
Matthews was 765 votes behind front-runner Chuck Williams and only a single vote ahead of third place finisher Sarah Bell in the Oconee County tally.
In Clarke County, however, Matthews got 54.8 percent of the vote, compared with 47.9 percent for Compere in November of last year. Williams got only 15.9 percent of the vote in Clarke County, just ahead of Alan Alexander with 14.8 percent and Bell with 14.5 percent.
With the votes from Morgan and Oglethorpe counties included with those of Oconee and Clarke counties, Matthews finished with 26.7 percent of the vote, compared with Compere's 27.5 percent in 2010.
That total of 26.7 percent put Matthews in second place behind Williams with 38.8 percent and allowed Matthews to move to the July 19 runoff against Williams. The runoff is necessary because no candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote.
Bell ended with 18.3 percent of the vote and Alexander with 16.2 percent.
Compere did almost no campaigning last year while Matthews, long active in the Oconee County Democratic Party, has been very visible during the short campaign period.
But Compare had only one opponent, while Matthews had three, all also from Oconee County.
Huckaby, also from Oconee County, resigned in late April to take over as chancellor of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.
The 113th House District consists of all of Oconee County, parts of western and southern Clarke County and Winterville, as well as parts of western Oglethorpe County and parts of northern Morgan County.
Overall turnout of the 35,750 active registered voters in the district yesterday was 11.0 percent, but it was 12.7 percent in Oconee County, 9.1 percent in Clarke County, 7.6 percent in Morgan County, and 7.4 percent in Oglethorpe County.
Alexander ran strongest in Oglethorpe County, where he had 29.0 percent of the vote. Bell did best in Morgan County, with 26.1 percent. Matthews ran strongest in Clarke County with his 54.8 percent, and Williams had his highest percentage in Oconee County, with 47.1 percent.
Matthews’ weakest showing was in Oconee County.
Inside Oconee County, Alexander did best in Dark Corner in the far western part of the county. Bell did best among voters who cast their ballots at the Civic Center in the center of the county.
Matthews’ best showing was at City Hall in Watkinsville.
Williams ran strongest in Antioch in the south of the county.
Williams is from the southern part of the county, while the other three contenders are from Watkinsville or nearby.
Voters who cast their ballots before election day were more likely to be Williams voters than voters overall, and less likely to vote for Alexander and Bell.
Turnout on July 19 could be important.
Matthews will have to get a lot of new voters or pick up former supporters of Bell and Alexander to overcome the gap with Williams in the tally from yesterday.
ADDENDUM 6/23/2011: Compere got 5,580 votes in 2010, or more than five times the number Matthews got in the June 21 election, meaning that Matthews has a lot of potential voters to attract to the polls on July 19. Williams got only 1,521 votes on June 21.
A two-sheet spreadsheet that I used to examine the vote is here.