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Turnout: The Critical Democratic Problem

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This voter analysis of GA-6 is depressing because it points out, once again, that the biggest problem Democrats face is that we don’t vote.

Democrat Jon Ossoff had a turnout problem on and before June 20. Republican Karen Handel didn’t. Some examples:

— The Pleasantdale Road precinct at the Gwinnett border is the only majority-black precinct in the DeKalb County part of the District. Ossoff won 82 percent in the precinct, but turnout (among active registered voters) was just 34 percent — well below the 57 percent average for DeKalb.

— Precincts 15A and 15B are apartment-heavy enclaves along Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. Ossoff got 84 percent in 15A and 66 percent in 15B. But turnout was just 30 percent in 15A and 44 percent in 15B. Turnout overall in the Fulton County portion of the Sixth was 57 percent.

I guess one can argue, as some will on the left, that Jon Ossoff was too corporate and thus couldn’t get poor voters to come out. But that seems like self-serving Monday morning quarterbacking to me. There is a more structural problem which Democrats perhaps do deserve blame over–that long-term poverty and disfranchisement means that black communities rarely see it in their interests to vote. A Democratic Party that more aggressively fought for civil rights–i.e. repeal Clinton’s welfare reform, fight for a massive transition of resources for poor communities, and brought everyday black people into the corridors of power–might change that. But of course, that also might just contribute to white backlash, leading to a net zero in terms of Democratic electability. It’s just a really hard question and anyone who says they have an easy answer is lying to you. But until the turnout issue is solved, it’s hard for Democrats to win. And that’s without even taking into account the Republican Party’s goal of establishing Jim Crow levels of black voting.

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