Voters in Georgia made their pick for president while holding negative views about the country’s direction, according to an expansive AP survey of the American electorate.
AP VoteCast found that three-fifths of Georgia voters said the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction while almost two-fifths said it is on the right track.
No Republican presidential candidate has lost the Peach state’s 16 electoral votes since George H.W. Bush in 1992. President Donald Trump won the state by five points in 2016.
Democrats believe they can flip the state for Joe Biden if Black voters show up in force.
Here’s a snapshot of who voted and what matters to them, based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey of about 133,000 voters and nonvoters — including 3,291 voters and 921 nonvoters in Georgia — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
TRUMP VS BIDEN
In the race for president, Biden had an advantage over Trump among voters under 45 but older voters were split.
Black voters were more likely to back Biden but white voters were more likely to favor Trump.
Linnea Pace, a Black voter in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur, fears a Trump victory could erode civil rights measures that have been in place for decades.
“For the Black community, there are so many things at stake right now,” said Pace, 57, an entertainer in Atlanta’s music industry.
Justin Windom, a 29-year-old Black man from Atlanta, was unsure if he was going to vote until last night but he decided to get up at the crack of dawn and cast his ballot for the “lesser of two evils” — Joe Biden.
“These next four years are going to make or break how far we go as a country,” Windom said.
College-educated voters were more likely to back Biden over Trump while Biden was about even with Trump among voters without a college degree.
Both voters in cities and suburban voters were more likely to prefer Biden while voters in small towns and rural areas were more likely to back Trump.
FACING THE PANDEMIC
In Georgia, which has suffered nearly 8,000 deaths from the coronavirus, almost half of voters think the coronavirus is not at all under control in this country. About one-fifth of voters said the virus in the U.S. is completely or mostly under control, and about 3 in 10 said it’s somewhat under control.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp was among the earliest to allow businesses to reopen and has eschewed a statewide mask mandate, including during the summer, when Georgia recorded the highest per-capita number of new infections nationwide. While Trump had been stressing the importance of reopening states sooner rather than later to get the U.S. economy back on track, he criticized Kemp in April for moving too fast.
In the Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek, Biden voter Katie Hunt Arabis said the coronavirus is her “No. 1 concern.”
The pandemic “is the biggest issue we have right now because it affects everything – it affects economics, our children’s education, it affects the small company I work for. It’s affecting every aspect of our lives,” she said.
ON THE ISSUES
The coronavirus pandemic was top of mind for many voters in Georgia. Almost two-fifths said it is the most important issue facing the country today.
Voters also considered the economy a major issue, with over a quarter saying it ranked at the top.
About one in 10 named racism and nearly the same number named health care, while 4% named law enforcement.
Voters were more negative than positive in their assessments of the nation’s economy. Overall, about two-fifths described economic conditions in the U.S. as excellent or good, and more than half called them not so good or poor.
Georgia’s economic recovery from the pandemic sputtered in September, with the unemployment rate raising and employers adding few jobs. The jobless rate rose to 6.4%, up from 5.7% in August.
In Powder Springs, Georgia, Trump voter Mary Chappell said the economy is a key reason she voted for the president.
“I believe everything else follows if you have a good economic country, and Trump has done that for us,” said Chappell, 66, a retired surgical coordinator.
STAYING AT HOME
Among registered voters who chose not to cast a ballot in Georgia, 24% said that was because they don’t like politics generally, 17% said they don’t know enough about the candidates’ positions and 16% said their vote doesn’t matter.
In Georgia, 71% of nonvoters were younger than 45 and 82% did not have a college degree.
AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for Fox News, NPR, PBS NewsHour, Univision News, USA Today Network, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. The survey of 3,291 voters in Georgia was conducted for eight days, concluding as polls closed. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. The survey combines a random sample of registered voters drawn from the state voter file and self-identified registered voters selected from nonprobability online panels. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 2.1 percentage points. Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at https://ap.org/votecast.