Republicans Tuesday reclaimed House District 117 and House District 119, held by Democrats since a special election a year ago.
Republican Houston Gaines defeated incumbent Democrat Deborah Gonzalez in House District 117 and Republican Marcus Wiedower defeated incumbent Jonathan Wallace in House District 119.
Gaines and Gonzalez met in a special election for the 117th House seat a year ago, and Wiedower and Wallace met at that same time in a special election for the 119th House seat.
A comparison of the two elections shows that high turnout in Oconee County played a major role in the victories by Gaines and Wiedower.
Where They Won
Gaines lost in Clarke County but won in the three precincts in Oconee County that are part of 117th House District. Gaines also won in the small parts of Barrow and Jackson counties that are part of the 117th.
Wiedower lost in Clarke County but won in Oconee. The two counties share the district.
Cowsert also lost in Clarke County but won in Oconee and Walton counties. All of Oconee County is in the 46th, but only parts of Clarke and Walton are in the district.
Results for these three races were not available on the Georgia Secretary of State Web site until Wednesday morning because of problems in counting the ballots in Clarke County.
I have done additional analyses of the District 117 and District 119 House races since my initial post to examine the role Oconee County played in the outcomes.
House District 117 Percentages
Gaines received 54.2 percent of the vote in the 2018 race on Tuesday compared with 46.9 percent in 2017.
Gaines’ percentage of the votes received in each of the four counties that make up the 117 House District did increase from 2017 to 2018, but he did poorly in Clarke County, the largest part of the district, both in 2017 and 2018.
Gaines received 35.9 percent of the vote in Clarke County in the special election and 37.7 percent in the election on Tuesday.
In Oconee County, the next largest part of the district, Gaines received 65.9 percent of the vote in 2017 and increased that to 69.6 percent in 2018.
Clarke County had a turnout rate of 61.5 percent, while Oconee County had a turnout rate of 75.5 percent in the election on Tuesday.
Turnout was much lower in the 2017 special election, but it was nearly the same in the two counties.
Turnout in Oconee County was 23.2 percent, while turnout in Clarke County was 21.9 percent.
House District 117 Votes
In 2017, Gaines obtained 1,740 votes in Clarke County compared with 3,109 for Gonzalez.
In 2018, Gaines obtained 4,540 vote in Clarke County compared with 7,487 for Gonzalez.
In Oconee County in 2017, Gaines obtained 1,188 votes, compared with 616 for Gonzalez.
In Oconee County on Tuesday, Gaines obtained 4,474 votes in Oconee County, compared with 1,953 for Gonzalez.
In 2017, Clarke County votes made up 49.4 percent of Gaines’ total vote, while on Tuesday it made up only 35.6 percent of his vote, even as his percentage of the vote in Clarke County was up slightly.
In 2017, the percentage of Gaines’ vote that came from Oconee County was 33.7. On Tuesday, Oconee County made up 37.2 percent of his total vote.
House District 119
The same picture emerges from a comparison of the special election in the 119th District in 2017 with the election on Tuesday.
In 2017, Wiedower was joined by Tom Lord and Steven Strickland as Republicans in the open election. I have combined their votes in 2017 in the charts below. Wiedower is alone in the 2018 comparisons.
In terms of vote percentages, Wiedower did better in Clarke County in 2018 than he did in 2017, and he did better in Oconee County in 2018 than he did in 2017.
Wallace did less well in both counties as a consequence.
In the final tabulation, the Republican candidates got 43.3 percent of the vote in 2017, and Wiedower got 53.5 percent of the vote on Tuesday.
The Republican candidates got only 914 votes in Clarke County in 2017, while Wiedower got 3,155 in Clarke County on Tuesday.
Even with that increase in votes on Tuesday, Clarke County votes made up 24.1 percent of Wiedower’s total vote on Tuesday, while it had made up 26.7 percent a year ago.
Oconee County simply played more of a role in Tuesday’s vote because of the increased turnout.
The 119th District is roughly evenly split between Oconee and Clarke counties in terms of number of voters.
Wallace got 70.0 percent of the Clarke County vote and Wiedower got 71.0 percent of the Clarke County vote on Tuesday.
Had turnout been the same in the two counties, Wiedower should have won, but only by a very small amount.
Republicans going into the election on Tuesday knew that turnout was going to be important in Oconee County, and it was.
The higher turnout in Oconee County helped make it possible for Gaines and Wiedower to lose by wide margins in Clarke County and still win the elections.