Poll shows most Georgians — blacks and whites —hold conservative values

By Saba Long

The past week has been a news whirlwind as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act and the Voting Rights Act as well as the ongoing national debate on women’s rights.

In a recent poll conducted by Fred Hicks of the non-partisan firm HEG, likely general election voters across the state of Georgia were asked their gender, political affiliation and five questions on the issues of the Voting Rights Act, abortion and gay marriage.

There has been a flurry of what-if articles and statements by politicos on the feasibility of turning Georgia purple. The poll responses speak to the conservative nature of our state’s electorate.

Key points to keep in mind regarding social issues in the Peach state are that roughly 53 percent of the voting public is age 45 and older and white voters make up nearly 59 percent of registered voters. Black voters come in at 30 percent with Asian and Hispanic voters at less than 2 percent each.

Metro Atlanta makes up roughly 45 percent of state’s electorate.

Voting Rights Act

The poll question stated:

As you may know, the Voting Rights Act was designed to prevent state and local governments from using rules and procedures, which prevented many blacks from voting. Yesterday the Supreme Court struck down a provision of the Act. Do you think the Voting Rights Act is still necessary to make sure that minorities are allowed to vote, or do you think the Voting Rights Act is no longer necessary?

Among those polled, 51 percent stated they do not believe the Voting Rights Act is still necessary with a remarkable racial divide and a slight gender divide. African-Americans overwhelmingly, 91.7 percent, stated the it was still necessary while only 36.2 percent of white voters stated the same.

Interestingly, those identifying as Independents – only white respondents identified as such — were solidly in support of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Abortion

Which of the following statements comes closest to your view on abortion: abortion should always be legal; should be legal most of the time; should be made illegal except in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life; or abortion should be made illegal without any exceptions?

Always legal

Legal most of the time

Illegal except in cases of rape, incest and/or to save the mother’s life

Illegal without any exception

Likely to be a contentious topic during the Republican primaries for the upcoming Congressional and Senate campaigns, it important to note 47 percent of all polled believe it should be illegal with exceptions. Less than 10 percent of Georgians believe in banning abortion completely. This should give cover to moderate GOPers and those breaking from the likes of Georgia Right to Life.

African-American and Republican responses mirrored each other on this issue.

Gay Rights

A strong majority, 61 percent, of Georgians opposes legalizing gay marriage.

“The perception on gay marriage is that Republicans are opposed and Democrats are in support; we found that to be partially true,” said Dr. Omar Nagi, a sociologist who consulted on the poll. “Republican voters overwhelmingly oppose legalizing gay marriage, but Democrats do not overwhelmingly endorse it. The combination of very conservative Republican voters and conservative Democrats leads to a huge block opposing the legalization of gay marriage.”

Of the African-Americans polled, nearly 53 percent stated no to the question of if gay and lesbian couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages. By 76 percent, Georgia voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2004 banning gay marriage.

Overall

This poll highlights many conversations I’ve had in the wake of the Supreme Court decisions and the recent women’s rights debates. The Atlanta lifestyle has a way of blinding you to the political realities and values outside of I-285.

Public opinion seems to be a majority of Georgians agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act while opposing its ruling on same sex marriages. We are generally against abortion but are amenable to making certain exceptions.

The demographics of currently registered Georgia voters are not in favor of progressives – particularly on social issues. A quick glance at the Georgia Secretary of State’s website voter registration numbers shows this is a very white state and a very Republican state. In any given general election, white voter turnout consistently outperforms white voter registrations, while the opposite is true for African Americans.

This poll shows that with the exception of the Voting Rights Act, minorities and whites in this state share similar social values, which would seem to be an opportunity for GOP minority outreach.

Saba Long is a communications and political professional who lives in downtown Atlanta. She serves as the senior council aide and communications liaison for Post 2 At-Large Atlanta City Councilman Aaron Watson. Most recently, Saba was the press secretary for MAVEN and Untie Atlanta -- the Metro Chamber’s education and advocacy campaigns in supportive of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Referendum. She has consulted with H.E.G. an analytics and evaluation firm where she lent strategic marketing and social media expertise to numerous political campaigns, including that of Fulton County Chairman John Eaves and the 2010 Clayton County transportation referendum. In 2009, Saba served as the deputy campaign manager for the campaign of City Council President Ceasar Mitchell. Previously, Saba was a Junior Account Executive at iFusion Marketing, where she lent fractional marketing strategy to various ATDC technology startups operating out of the Georgia Tech incubator, ATDC. For the past two years, Saba has presented on online marketing and politics to the incoming fellows of the Atlanta chapter of the New Leaders Council.

7 replies
  1. moliere says:

    “This poll shows that with the exception of the Voting Rights Act, minorities and whites in this state share similar social values, which would seem to be an opportunity for GOP minority outreach”
    Or it shows that the Democratic Party could become more competitive with whites in Georgia by moving to the right on social issues. Zell Miller, Tom Murphy and those that came before him didn’t get the privilege of leading this state by being social liberals. If you are a progressive and care about the direction that this state is taking and its future (and if you are looking at what is going on in states like Wisconsin, Florida and Georgia where the GOP has consolidated power and do not wish for the same to happen here) then rooting for the Democrats to get their white voters back is preferable to rooting for the GOP to add black voters and build a greater hegemony. Just sayin’, That is the best way of adapting to the political values and realities outside I-285. There are plenty of white voters outside I-285 who aren’t like BurroughstonBroc and Wish For Milton County that the Democrats could get voting for them again just like they were 10 years ago. The Democrats just need more John Barrows to reach them.Report

    Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      moliere Those are good points, but virtually all of the John Barrow’s have pretty much left the Georgia Democratic Party and likely are not coming back anytime soon, if ever, at this particular juncture.
      As the last conservative white Democrat from the Deep South in Congress, the only reason why John Barrow even sticks around in what is left of the party is because his family has a deep history and heritage in the Democratic Party, otherwise Barrow likely would have left the party many years ago along with the rest of the conservative white Democrats who left the party and became Republicans (with recent Republican governors Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal being amongst them).
      The major problem with Georgia Democrats is not just necessarily that they are too far to the left on social issues for a mostly white and conservative electorate (they are). 
      The major problem with Georgia Democrats is also that they completely stopped raising money, building their organization and recruiting new voters from the ranks of the tens-of-thousands of mostly moderate and progressive newcomers that move into the state each year.
      It is completely inexcusable that as a supposedly major political party in one of the ten-largest and fastest-growing states in the union, Georgia Democrats have only $15,000 in cash on hand.
      The development that Georgia Democrats have only $15,000 in cash on hand as a supposedly major statewide organization is even more embarrassing when compared with the Georgia Republican Party which has dozens of candidates who each individually have hundreds-of-thousands of dollars of cash on hand.
      For a major political party like the Democratic Party of Georgia to have only $15,000 in cash on hand with the changing demographics unquestionably going their way coming off of a major Presidential election campaign in 2012 and going into a what is supposed to be a major statewide election year in 2014 means that the DPG has completely halted all fundraising efforts while the ultra-dominant Georgia Republican Party (which is known to hold multiple fundraisers all over the state during the course of a week, particularly in the powerful Metro Atlanta suburbs) continues to raise money like crazy.
      It is completely puzzling how a major political party in one of the 10-largest and fastest-growing states in the union thinks that it is supposed to exist virtually without raising so much as even a dime in funds while the competition functions as an abundantly well-funded bank with candidates who are literally walking ATM’s.
      Virtually all of the problems that Georgia Democrats face are of their very own making as no one forced the party to completely stop raising money, to stop building their organization, to stop recruiting new voters and to stop competing in statewide elections.Report

      Reply
  2. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    Excellent article, Ms. Long.
    {{“The Atlanta lifestyle has a way of blinding you to the political realities and values outside of I-285.”}}
    …This is a key passage and an excellent point as it is a totally different world outside of the I-285 Perimeter than it is inside of it.
    It is very good to see that you, as what is presumably a young progressive that lives inside of I-285, have seemingly taken off the ITP blinders and become aware of the much-larger (and much more dominant) world outside of I-285 and how that area dominates the state’s political, social and cultural climate.
    {{“This poll shows that with the exception of the Voting Rights Act, minorities and whites in this state share similar social values, which would seem to be an opportunity for GOP minority outreach.”}}
    …You’re right.  The very strong evidence that minorities and whites share similar social values would seem to be an opportunity for GOP minority outreach.
    But at the moment, the GOP, despite their exceptional fundraising prowess in Georgia and across the Southern U.S., is not exactly what one could call a very-robust party, both nationally and here in Georgia.
    Even with the consistently Herculean fundraising efforts in Georgia and throughout the Southeast, the GOP seems to be a party with much internal strife that looks to be either in stagnation mode or even contraction mode in some cases.
    For the GOP, recruiting new voters does not necessarily seem to be anywhere near as much of a priority as pandering to the party’s demographically shrinking base of extreme social conservatives seems to be at the moment.Report

    Reply
  3. ScottNAtlanta says:

    also, what was the sample size of this “poll”?  It seems rather skewed in a certain direction.  I looked to see where there was a link and found none.  I can release a poll that says 95% of Georgians want me to be governor…but unless I release crosstabs…mine is every bit as credible (GOD forbid….who’d want me as governor…I might get things done…lol)Report

    Reply
    • moliere says:

      ScottNAtlanta 

      It was a relatively small sample size … less than 600 but more than 500. I should note that people always challenge the legitimacy of the poll when they do not agree with the results. The GOP spent months declaring that the polls showing Obama ahead of Romney were wrong right up until election day, and even then some claim massive vote fraud (in fairness the Democrats did the same in 2004). But the fact that Georgia is a socially conservative state should not come as a shock. Why should Georgia be any more socially liberal than, say, Florida? Go run for governor or senator in Florida as a pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage social liberal and see  how far that gets you. And where Georgia only has one socially liberal urban area (Atlanta) Florida has several (Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Boca Raton) as well as several college town type areas (Tallahassee, Gainesville). Granted, I agree that the sample size was too small (example: there were no black independents) but the results are pretty expected: Georgia is a socially conservative, Bible-belt state, which is why the GOP has every significant office in this state except for the black Democrats elected in majority-minority areas.Report

      Reply

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