WTF Is Up with Georgia?

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It caused a bit of a stir when Georgia went into the Toss-Up column in the TPM Electoral Scoreboard. Then it moved to Clinton. And now Hillary Clinton is up 6 points in Georgia in the PollTracker Average. The average is heavily driven by three polls from August which are Clinton +7, Clinton +4 and tie. What’s worth remembering is that while Georgia has been a reliably red state for a generation, the margins haven’t been in the blowout territory like other red states. McCain won the state by 5.2 points in 2008 and Romney won by 7.8 points in 2012. When one candidate is up by a substantial margin, as Clinton is at least for the moment, you’re going to see that across the map. But still: up by 6 points in Georgia. What’s up with that?

First some demographics.

Whites not of Hispanic descent made up 53.9% of the population in 2015. African-Americans 31.7%, Hispanics 9.4% and Asians 4%. Now this is Census data, not the voting population or even the voting age population, and the more diverse population is weighted toward younger Georgians. Still, it’s not like 1980 when the overwhelming majority of Georgians were white with a substantial but still sub-30% minority of African-Americans.

So why is Trump doing this badly at least for the moment? The crosstabs for the three polls aren’t specific or consistent enough to really pin it down. But my supposition is that Trump is underperforming among whites with college degrees. This would match with national data which shows that as the key dividing line in Trump’s white support—whether or not a voter graduated from college.

And it may be born out by this one datapoint.

According to the most recent poll, by JMC Analytics, Trump is clobbering Clinton with white voters, but with a catch. It’s 52% Trump to 25% Clinton. That leaves a lot of folks unaccounted for. Well, 12% are undecided and 10% are with Gary Johnson. (1% are supporting Jill Stein.)

So on the one hand, Trump’s beating Clinton 2 to 1 among white voters. But he’s only barely able to get to a majority of them. Almost a quarter of the white electorate is not with either of the major party candidates. Again, the crosstabs aren’t there to test this hypothesis. The poll sponsored by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has Clinton beating Trump 47% to 36% among college graduates. But that number isn’t broken out by race. So it’s hard to know what to draw from that.

But that’s my hunch: whites with college degrees who are either Republican or usually vote Republican just don’t seem willing to sign on for Trump, even if not that many are going with Clinton. I’ll be watching to see if there’s more data to see if this is what is happening.

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