Donald Trump underperformed in Oconee County on Nov. 8, compared with how Republican presidential candidates fared in 2012 and 2008, an analysis of the official results for the last three presidential elections shows.
Trump got 67.4 percent of the vote in Oconee County on Nov. 8, compared with Mitt Romney’s 73.6 percent in 2012 and John McCain’s 70.8 percent in 2008.
Democrat Hillary Clinton got 28.0 percent of the Oconee County vote on Nov. 8, according to the official results certified by Board of Elections and Registration Chair Pat Hayes on Nov. 14.
Clinton did better than President Barack Obama in 2012, when he got 24.8 percent of the vote in the county. In 2008, Obama got 28.2 percent of Oconee County’s vote, or a just slightly higher percentage than Clinton got in 2016.
Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson got 4.6 percent of the vote in Oconee County this year, compared with only 1.6 percent in 2012, when his name was also on the ballot as the Libertarian candidate.
This year, 422 Oconee County voters wrote in the name of someone other than Trump, Clinton and Johnson, the three names on the ballot.
In both 2008 and again in 2012, only 52 voters wrote in the name of a person not listed on the ballot, according to Hayes.
Turnout was high this year in Oconee County, with 85.1 percent of the active registered voters casting a ballot, compared with 80.0 percent in 2012 and 84.4 percent in 2008.
Oconee County tied Union County for the highest turnout in the state.
Oconee Vs. State
Statewide, Trump got 51.1 percent of the vote on Nov. 8, compared with Clinton’s 45.8 percent and Johnson’s 3.1 percent.
Turnout for the state as a whole was 76.4 percent this year, up from 72.2 percent in 2012 and 75.7 percent in 2008.
Trump did less well in Oconee County with the 67.4 percent vote total than he did in all but two of the counties surrounding Oconee.
Clarke County reported 28.7 percent vote for Trump and 66.8 percent for Clinton.
Trump got 80.0 percent of the vote in Jackson County, 73.2 percent in Barrow County, 76.9 percent in Walton, 69.5 percent in Morgan County, 62.1 percent in Greene County, and 69.5 percent in Oglethorpe County.
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Trump did well less in Oconee County in the March 1 presidential primary with 31.4 percent of the vote than he did statewide, with 38.9 percent of the vote.
Trump carried all of Oconee County’s 13 precincts on Nov. 8 by significant margins, but he polled weaker in City Hall (Watkinsville), Athens Academy and Annex than in other precincts. These are all on the eastern side of the county close to downtown Athens.
Trump’s lowest percent was at City Hall, where he got 57.0 percent of the vote.
Trump did best in Dark Corner in the west of the county, where he got 77.4 percent of the vote.
In Civic Center, the largest of the precincts, Trump’s percent was 64.2, or 3.2 percentage points below his average county-wide.
The chart above shows the total number of registered votes in each of the 13 precincts as well as the percentage of votes for Trump calculated based on the number of voters casting a ballot in each precinct for Trump, Clinton or Johnson.
|Oconee County Precincts|
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Early Vs. Late
Trump got 67.4 percent of the vote from those who cast a ballot in-person in early voting (57.9 percent of the total voters).
On election day itself, 68.2 percent of the voters chose Trump.
Of the 893 who voted by mail, 59.9 percent chose Trump.
Any mailed vote received by the end of the day on Nov. 14 with a postmark of no later than Nov. 8 counted in the final, certified vote totals.
Dan Matthews received a single extra vote on Nov. 14 in the race for Post 5 on the Watkinsville City Council, giving him 570 votes to 568 for Mark Melvin.
Party And Trump Vote
While Trump probably didn’t pick up much support from those in the county who consider themselves to be Democrats, he likely did get support from those who consider themselves to be independents.
Graduate students in a research methods class I teach conducted interviews with 180 registered voters in the county starting on Oct. 12 and running through Oct. 29.
The sample was a scientific one, drawn by chance from the active voter list in the county, and the final sample matched the actual voter list closely in terms of gender, race, age and precinct of the voter.
Students did interviews in person, by phone and online, and 29.6 percent of those who were contacted completed the survey. Sample error was 7.3 percent.
The students didn't ask about vote choice in the presidential race, but they did ask about party identification.
Half Identify As Republicans
Voters in Georgia do not register by party, of course, but 50.0 percent of Oconee county voters said in the survey that they think of themselves as Republicans, considerably below Trump’s 67.4 percent of the vote.
The survey found that 16.9 percent said they were Democrats, also much lower than Clinton’s 28.0 vote percentage.
A total of 25.3 percent of the surveyed voters said they were independents.
The sample estimates are just that, but the odds are 19 to 1 that between 42.7 and 57.3 of the voters in the county think of themselves as Republicans.
Sample error, of course, is only one type of error in scientific surveys.
The Secretary of State Office does not include the write-in votes in its reports, essentially treating them as the equivalent of those who turned out to vote but skipped past the ballot for president.
The official results certified by Hayes on Nov. 14 did include the number of write-in votes.
If the write-in votes are used in the base, Trump got 66.0 percent of the vote, rather than 67.4 percent. Clinton got 27.4 percent, rather than 28.0 percent, and Johnson got 4.5 percent, rather than 4.6 percent.
Evan McMullin, who ran as an independent but whose name was not on the ballot in Georgia, received 153 of the 422 write-in votes in Oconee County, followed by 38 for Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, whose name also was not on the ballot in Georgia.
Mark Richt Got Vote
Ohio Governor John Kasich got 26 write-in votes in Oconee County, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders got 19 votes, Vice President-elect Mike Pence of Indiana got 18 votes, and Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio got 14 votes.
Kasich and Rubio ran against Trump in the Republican primaries.
Sanders ran against Clinton in the Democratic primaries.
No other write-in name got more than 10 votes.
“Anyone else” got six votes, and Alfred E. Neuman, Bozo the Clown, and “My Dog” all got one vote.
Former University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt also got a vote.
True No Votes
An additional 123 persons cast a ballot in Oconee County in the Nov. 8 election but simply skipped over the presidential race.
If Trump’s vote was calculated based on the total number of persons who went to the polls including those who did not cast a ballot for president or wrote-in a name, his vote percentage drops to 65.6.
Clinton’s vote drops to 27.3 percent, and Johnson’s drops to 4.5 percent
Those figures compare to the vote percentages without the write-in votes and nonvotes of 67.4 percent (Trump), 28.0 percent (Clinton), and 4.6 percent (Johnson).
These lower figures change not at all the dominance of Trump in the Oconee County election, but they do add insight regarding the nature of the vote.
In the Chart above, I used the figures without write-in and nonvotes because the precinct data on the Secretary of State web site only present those figures.
Active Vs. Inactive Voters
The calculation of turnout is based on the number of active voters in the county.
The County’s official report puts that figure at 24,058.
Before advance voting began on Oct. 17, Hayes had told me that another 3,790 inactive voters were on the county’s roll.
These are persons eligible to vote, but they are on the verge of being purged because of their inactivity.
How many of the inactive voted in the Nov. 8 election isn’t included in the reports, but their number should increase the base of active voters as well as the number of votes counted.
In conducting the class survey, my students found 37 persons who were on the active list but who should not have been there. These 37 had moved or were deceased.
Those 37 voters represent 5.7 percent of 645 voters in the sample drawn for the class, and, if extended to the whole voter list, show a certain amount of “dirt” in the active voter list as well.
Clearly the calculation of turnout rates is necessarily an estimate because of the fluidity of the voter list.
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