I’m continuing with my analysis of Tuesday’s special elections in Georgia using my methodology for gauging voter support based on the address associated with each campaign donation. As noted previously, my theory is that voter turnout in special elections is driven by the type of motivated supporters who donate to local candidates, as these are precisely the type of people who will encourage their friends and neighbors to get out to vote. (Here is my initial analysis for last month’s special election in HD #24 here. Earlier today, I also posted an analysis of tomorrow’s special election in HD #48 here.)
I reviewed the campaign finance reports filed by each of the four candidates. State House District #80 is located in Fulton & DeKalb Counties, in the northern suburbs of Atlanta.
|Candidate||Number of Itemized|
(> $100) Contributions
|Dollar Amount of
Itemized (> $100) Contributions
|Taylor Bennett (D)||54||$ 26,903|
|Catherine Bernard (R)||82||$ 28,040|
|Loren Collins (R)||1||$ 400|
|J. Max Davis (R)||53||$ 37,800|
I then examined the mailing address for each listed donation and determined the corresponding location of each.
|Candidate||Number of unique|
addresses within HD 80
|Number of unique
outside HD 80
|Taylor Bennett (D)||10||6|
|Catherine Bernard (R)||14||8|
|Loren Collins (R)|
|J. Max Davis (R)||20||4|
[Since I was looking for unique donations and supporters, I disregarded multiple contributions from either the same person or the same address. I also ignored contributions from political action committees, campaign committees of other candidates, and addresses with post office boxes.]
Again, to simplify the analysis, I aggregated the voting precincts in HD #80 into geographic regions as follows:
- Fulton Co. South – SS12 and SS14
- Fulton Co. North – all other Fulton County precincts
- DeKalb Co. North – Montgomery Elem., Kittridge Elem., Huntley Hills Elem. & Chamblee
- Ashford Parkside (AP)
- Ashford Dunwoody Road (AD)
- Silver Lake
- DeKalb Co. South – Briarwood, Cross Keys High, & Woodward Elem.
Since the map I found online with precinct boundaries was very detailed and almost impossible to read, I created my own map by taking the one from the US Census Bureau website, and adding in the boundaries myself:
And here is the breakdown of the May 2014 Georgia Republican and Democratic primary vote by those regions. Because there was no Democratic primary for State Representative for HD #80, I used the number of Democratic votes cast in the primary for State School Superintendent.:
|Region||Republican Votes |
in May 20,
|Democratic Votes |
in May 20,
|Fulton Co. North||411||100||511|
|Fulton Co. South||350||132||482|
|DeKalb Co. North||816||244||1,060|
|DeKalb Co. South||313||233||546|
Finally, I summarized each candidate’s campaign contributions by region. I also included each candidate’s contributions from addresses which are just outside HD #80’s boundaries. Since Loren Collins had only one campaign contribution, and it was from outside the district, I excluded him from this breakdown.
|Fulton Co. South||1||1||2|
|Fulton Co. North||2|
|DeKalb Co. North||2||3||4|
|DeKalb Co. South||7||7||4|
This election presents a very interesting test for this methodology. Each of the three candidates listed above received numerous contributions from within, or just outside, the district. Furthermore, there is enough data from this campaign to justify a precinct-level analysis.
That Mr. Bennett could receive so many donations as a Democrat in a predominantly Republican district is very impressive. However, it is impossible to ignore that most of tomorrow’s likely voters will be Republicans. Furthermore, about half of his contributions came from a single region (what I’ve called DeKalb Co. South), that also featured a significant number of contributors to the campaigns of Ms. Bernard and Mr. Davis. I believe he will need to win this area outright in order to finish second and make the runoff.
Mr. Davis seems to have very strong support throughout the central and northern parts of DeKalb county, and I expect this is where a significant number of votes will be cast. I anticipate him receiving large margins from these vote-rich sections of the district.
Although my schedules above make it seem that Ms. Bernard received donations from all throughout the district, in reality, the addresses associated with her contributors are rather bunched together. It just so happens that those clusters tend to run across precinct boundary lines, thereby giving the appearance of dispersion. For example, there is a cluster of her donations on either side of Johnson Ferry Road, which is the boundary between the Ashford Parkside and Silver Lake precincts. There is another cluster in the southern part of Brookhaven precinct, that spills into the northern part of Briarwood and Cross Keys High precincts. If financial support correlates to voter behavior, then perhaps this geographic concentration of donors signals an overlapping, and thus dilution, of candidate support.