Friday, July 01, 2022

Oconee County Delivered Large Number Of Votes For Collins In June 21 Republican Congressional District Runoff

***Oconee Democrats Played Lesser Role In Party’s Runoff

Oconee County played an outsized role in Mike Collins’ sweeping victory in last week’s runoff for the Republican nomination for the 10th Congressional District.

In the primary on May 24, only 15.0 percent of Oconee County voters using the Republican ballot selected Collins as their preferred candidate in the race for the open U.S. District 10 Congressional seat.

A slightly higher percentage of the county’s voters–17.6 percent–picked Vernon Jones.

In the June 21 runoff, certified by the Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration on Monday, 77.0 percent of Oconee County voters picked Collins.

Jones was able to increase his percentage of county vote only to 23.0 percent.

Oconee County ranked third from the bottom among the District’s 18 counties in percent of support for Collins in May, but it ranked near the top in support for Collins in the June runoff.

What is more striking is that Oconee County ranked second–behind only much more populous Walton County--in terms of actual number of votes given to Collins in the June runoff.

Collins, obviously aware of Oconee County’s historically high turnout rates, campaigned in person in the county in the days leading up to the runoff election on June 21.

And it paid off.

Democratic Votes

Democrats also had a contest for the party’s nomination for the 10th Congressional District, but Oconee County voters played only a small role in determining the outcome of either the May 24 primary or of the June 21 runoff.

Board Of Elections Meeting 6/27/2022
Anglin Is Facing The Camera

In the May 24 primary, 28.7 percent of Oconee County Democratic voters selected Jessica Fore, and 36.9 percent selected Tabitha Johnson-Green, the two top vote getters among the five candidates on the ballot.

In the June 21 primary, Fore got 49.2 percent of the vote in Oconee County, and Johnson-Green received 50.8 percent.

Georgia does not have party registration, and voters simply request the party ballot they wish to use in a primary without any constraints based on what they have done in the past.

The only restriction is that the voter must use the ballot of the same party in a runoff as that voter used in the primary itself.

Oconee County Democrats did not put up any candidates for local offices this year.

In contrast, the Oconee County Republican Party had three candidates running for open Post 3 on the Board of Education, with two of them, Ryan Hammock and Julie Mauck, moving to the runoff, which Hammock won.

That Board of Education election no doubt drew independent voters and even voters who most often use the Democratic ballot to ask for the Republican ballot on May 24 and June 21.

The shift left few Oconee County Democrats to have much impact in that party’s primary races.

Democratic Turnout

Only 1,449 Oconee County voters chose to use the Democratic ballot in the May 24 primary, and only 1,266 of those voters cast a ballot in the contest for the party’s nomination for the 10th District Congressional seat.

Only 584 Democratic votes were cast in Oconee County in the June 21 runoff, and only 563 of those voters participated in the Congressional race.

Oconee County ranked fifth from the bottom among the 18 counties in the District in the percentage of support for Johnson-Greene in the May Primary, and fourth from the bottom in the June 21 runoff.

In terms of actual vote numbers, Oconee County was ninth among the 18 counties in the District in terms of votes given to Johnson-Green in the primary (467), and eighth in terms of votes (286) given Johnson-Green in the runoff.

The 1,449 Democratic votes cast on May 24 in Oconee County were 11.9 percent of the ballots cast in that election, and the 584 Democratic votes cast in the June 21 runoff were 9.2 percent of the votes cast in the June 21 runoff.

Historical Comparison

In the 2020 presidential election in Oconee County, Democrat Joe Biden received 32.4 percent of the vote, and Republican Donald Trump received 65.9 percent.

While the 32.4 percent Democratic vote is a high mark in recent elections in the county, the 9.2 percent is a low mark.

Oconee County voters cast 5,787 (90.8 percent) Republican ballots on Tuesday of last week.

In the May 24 election, Oconee County voters cast 10,677 Republican ballots, or 87.4 percent of the total votes.

In the June 21 runoff, 21.7 percent of Oconee County voters cast a ballot. In the May 24 primary, 41.9 percent of the voters went to the polls.

Cross Over Voters

The shift of independents and even usual Democrats to the Republican Primary no doubt had impact on the Board of Education race, but it also is likely to have had some impact on the race between Collins and Jones.

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Voters using the Republican ballot were confronted with two candidates who took similar and often extreme positions on most issues.

One key difference was that former President Donald Trump endorsed Jones. In response, Collins went out of his way to say that he endorsed Trump.

Collins was particularly aggressive in his attacks on Jones, calling him an “accused predator,” a “radically anti-White racist,” and someone who had never married, had no children, and has an “alternative lifestyle.”

Republican Vote By County

Collins is White, and Jones is Black, but race seems not to have played a strong role in the outcome of the runoff.

Collins did well in Oconee, which has the lowest percentage of voters classified as Non-White in the District based on voter registration files, but he also did well in Clarke County, which has 44.0 percent of its voters who are non-White.

In addition, Collins did well in Newton and Henry counties, with 58.4 and 64.1 percent of their voters, respectively, classified as Non-White.

Collins did get only 60.7 percent of the vote in Hancock County, which, in the District, has the largest percentage of Non-White voters, at 72.5 percent.

Collins did best in terms of percentages in his home county of Butts, with 86.4 percent of the votes.

But that translated into only 1,617 votes, much less than the 5,040 he received in Walton County and the 4,336 he received in Oconee County.

Jones is from DeKalb County, which is not in the 10th District. He did best in the part of Wilkes County that is in the 10th District, with 42.6 percent of the vote, but that represented only 23 voters.

Collins received 74.5 percent of the votes in the runoff in the 10th District as a whole.

Democratic Vote By County

In the Democratic runoff, race seems to have played a stronger hand.

Johnson-Green, who is Black, did best in Taliaferro, Wilkes, Hancock, Henry, and Newton counties, all of which have large Non-White populations.

She did less well in Madison, Ogelthorpe, Jackson, and Oconee Counties, which have smaller percentages of Non-White voters.

Fore, who is White, did better in Clarke County, with its large Non-White population, and in Oconee County, where there are few voters classified as Non-White.

But Fore is from Clarke County.

And with only 16.8 percent of its voters classified as Non-White, Johnson-Green still carried Oconee County, with 50.4 percent of the vote.

Johnson-Green’s final vote across the 18 counties in the District was 64.4 percent, and she carried all but Madison and Oglethorpe counties.

Outcome Predetermined

Collins ran his runoff campaign as if he felt he didn’t need Jones’ voters to win the House seat in November.

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It isn’t hard to imagine that at least some Jones’ voters will skip that race rather than vote for Collins in November, given the attacks Collins made against Jones.

Fore, in her two appearances before the Oconee County Democrats in recent months, tried to make the case that the Republican candidates and campaign presented an opportunity for Democrats.

She said that even before the Republican field was narrowed from eight to two candidates for the runoff.

Fore told the local Democrats at the candidate forum they organized on June 16 that the 10th Congressional District has gone from plus 28 percent Republican to plus 15 percent Republican as a result of redistricting.

“We are dealing with kind of a self-fulling prophesy on the fact that there’s no attention on the Democratic side of this race,” Fore said.

“Everybody is still looking at Georgia 10 as though political lines are the same as they were before redistricting, and they are not,” she said.

Fore: Right Democrat Can Win

“It is not completely impossible for the right Democratic candidate,” Fore told the Oconee County Democrats last month.

She said she was that candidate.

“There also is a dynamic where journalists have been hesitant to wade in on the primary side of this because of that same perspective that the General Election is going to be decided by the Republican Primary, and so why pay any attention to the Democratic side of the race.”

Fore said she thought that she could change that perspective if she got the nomination.

Johnson-Green snubbed the local Democrats, saying she would attend the June 16 forum and then cancelling at the last minute.

She has run twice in the old 10th District, getting 37 percent of the vote both times.

That District formerly included Washington County, where Johnson-Green, a nurse, lives, but Washington County, and Johnson-Green, are now outside the 10th District.

In the past, Johnson-Green has been a low key campaigner, at least in the northern part of the District, and has not done much to get votes in either Oconee or Clarke counties.

Certification Meeting

The Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration met on Monday to certify the results of the June 22 runoff election.

In her Director’s Report, Rebecca Anglin said that there had been no wait time in early voting and no problems at the polling places on June 21, election day.

Anglin had reported delays in early voting and on election day in her comments to the Board after the May 24 election.

Anglin had blamed the delays in part on the long ballots, which included a list of nonbinding questions from the two parties.

“The ballot will be longer in November,” Anglin said on Monday, “But there will not be all of the straw poll questions.”

“It will just be straightforward for the candidates,” she said.

Comment On Data And Video

I downloaded the most recent voter registration data file from the Secretary of State web site to analyze the racial characteristics of registered voters in the 10th Congressional District. Those data were from December of 2021.

Three counties are only partially in the 10th District: Henry County, Newton County, and Wilkes County.

The data file I used does not include a breakdown of the voters by Congressional District in those counties, and the data file for the Congressional District, which does include that information, cost $50. It also requires several weeks to be delivered.

I decided to use the free data for the those three counties as an approximation for the more precise data for the parts of the counties in the District.

In addition, I decided to simplify the racial data to the data file to White and Non-White. The Non-White includes Unknown as well as combinations of races. It also includes Whites of Hispanic Origin.

Anglin was willing to have her staff use my camera and tripod to record the meeting of the Board of Elections and Registration on June 27.

That video is below.

Anglin begins her election report at 8:10 in the video.


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