Georgia is ground zero on "voting rights". How do Georgians feel about it?
Biden’s Voting Panic Didn’t Move Georgia
Look at the chart. Can you spot his claimed voter suppression?
By The Editorial Board WSJ
Jan. 27, 2022 6:40 pm ET
Joe Biden’s overheated speech in Atlanta on voting rights didn’t persuade the Senate, and apparently it didn’t move Georgians either. A new survey taken in the wake of his visit by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that Georgia voters give Mr. Biden a 34% approval rating, down from 51% in May last year.
It’s possible Mr. Biden elevated the debate over elections and voting, which the poll rated as the No. 1 issue facing the state. But since both sides are animated, how do they net out?
Well, 53% of Georgia voters think ballot dropboxes should be either eliminated entirely, or else they agree with keeping such boxes “inside early voting locations” and “available during voting hours.” Only 44% want dropboxes “widely available.”
If Mr. Biden’s demagoguery about “Jim Crow 2.0” didn’t take hold, that’s probably because it flies in the face of what Georgians have experienced. The chart nearby shows the state’s voter turnout by race/ethnicity since 2006, according to Census Bureau data. Can you spot the voter suppression? We see something else.
Some analysts point to the gap between black and white voters, which has reversed since 2012. But who was at the top of the ballot that year? Barack Obama. It would hardly be surprising if black voters were enthusiastic to support the first black President, as the chart suggests.
All the turnout lines have been rising, generally, since 2014. This date is important because Georgia previously had to get “preclearance” from Washington before changing its voting laws. The Supreme Court nixed that requirement in 2013, and a year later Vice President Joe Biden sounded alarms about a “new assault on the most basic of civil rights, the right to vote.”
Then what happened? In 2018, when Stacey Abrams was running for Governor and narrowly lost, black turnout handily beat white turnout, 59.6% to 56.1%. That bucked the typical trend of much lower voting in midterm years. In 2020, a year with huge overall voting, black turnout rose again to 64%, one point shy of Mr. Obama’s re-election year.
These are survey data, and they aren’t perfect. The voting law that Georgia passed last year is too new to be reflected. But Democrats have warned for years about alleged assaults on the franchise. Here’s a 2012 headline: “Despite voter ID law, minority turnout up in Georgia.” The story explains that opponents of the law “labeled it a Jim Crow-era tactic that would suppress the minority vote.”
If people in Georgia don’t believe Mr. Biden’s same song and dance a decade later, maybe it’s because they remember.