You Can Vote However You Like, or Analyzing Fulton County, Georgia

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Fulton County, Georgia, is quite a polarized place. Even its shape is odd, formed as a consolidation of an older Fulton with Milton County to the north and Campbell County to the south during the Great Depression; it’s now Georgia’s most populous county. Alternatively, you can think of it as a county that on one end gives us T.I. (to whom the title pays homage) and Ludacris (both of whom are from Atlanta), and Tom Price (Roswell) and Jeff Foxworthy (Alpharetta) on the other.

Now, in 2008, Fulton County gave Barack Obama 67% of the vote. But, as its diverse history and composition would suggest, that was far from uniform:

As you can see, the county’s also quite racially polarized (% Black registered voters on the right).

More over the flip…

Now without getting into the politics of municipal incorporation that I’m far from qualified to talk about, you can see that Fulton’s quite the tale of two cities, er…former counties. If we take the 112 precincts (and six municipalities – Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park, Roswell, and Sandy Springs) that form completely incorporated North Fulton (from which many county secession efforts start in the Georgia Legislature), we would get this astonishing result:

“Milton” South Fulton
Population (2009) 303,469 730,287
Obama 56,678.61 215,312.39
McCain 86,673.18 43,462.82
Total 144,644.68 260,296.32
Obama% 39.18% 82.72%
McCain% 59.92% 16.70%
Reg. Voters 197412 356801
Black RVs 10.43% 51.62%
Hisp RVs 1.40% 0.74%
Asian RVs 2.38% 0.57%

Fulton County would lose its most-populous title to Gwinnett County and DeKalb would move to 2nd, while “Milton” County would be the 5th largest county, with Cobb at 4th. More interestingly, Milton County would be a 60% McCain jurisdiction, while South Fulton would shoot to 83% Obama. Perhaps also tellingly, “Milton” is 10% Black, 2% Hispanic, and 3% Asian (by registered voters), South Fulton is 52% Black.

Of course, we don’t need to consider the wet county secession dreams of some suburban Republicans to see this polarization – we can examine the results by municipality. (Sidenote: five points for Fulton County for good precincting procedures…more on that later.)

Municipality Obama McCain Total Obama% McCain% %Black %Hisp %Asian
Alpharetta 8,380.27 14,253.58 22,784.46 36.78% 62.56% 8.92% 1.56% 2.89%
Atlanta 143,150.79 35,609.43 180,059.08 79.50% 19.78% 44.05% 0.72% 0.71%
Chattahoochee Hills 381.96 827.87 1,233.70 30.96% 67.11% 23.49% 0.65% 0.20%
College Park 4,584.40 607.66 5,218.90 87.84% 11.64% 62.98% 0.89% 0.16%
East Point 13,838.28 1,209.71 15,109.12 91.59% 8.01% 66.37% 0.96% 0.25%
Fairburn 4,018.35 773.27 4,814.00 83.47% 16.06% 63.16% 2.05% 0.52%
Hapeville 997.56 653.96 1,676.88 59.49% 39.00% 31.68% 2.26% 2.14%
Johns Creek 10,957.29 18,476.15 29,689.93 36.91% 62.23% 7.71% 1.45% 5.66%
Milton 3,914.32 8,915.53 12,931.26 30.27% 68.95% 7.60% 1.46% 1.69%
Mountain Park 145.26 175.73 328.45 44.23% 53.50% 1.01% 0.25% 0.25%
Palmetto 959.27 345.31 1,309.05 73.28% 26.38% 51.61% 1.66% 0.05%
Roswell 14,582.85 23,392.87 38,415.64 37.96% 60.89% 9.03% 1.34% 1.30%
Sandy Springs 18,698.61 21,459.31 40,494.94 46.18% 52.99% 15.48% 1.31% 0.94%
Union City 6,588.59 790.97 7,391.49 89.14% 10.70% 71.37% 0.64% 0.11%
Uninc South Fulton 40,802.19 2,644.63 43,484.11 93.83% 6.08% 78.20% 0.49% 0.17%

Anyways, I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves on that one.

Sidenote number 2: At this point, you’re probably going, “WTF, Jeff??” and wondering if I’d hit some of the ganja that Rogers County, OK was busy with last night. Well, the reason there are decimal points is because of the allocation of early votes to precincts. 45% of votes in Fulton County were cast early and not allocated to specific precincts. Additionally, Obama won 62% of votes cast on Election Day in Fulton, and a whopping 75% of votes cast Early. Early votes are non-trivial and need to be allocated. Thanks to the University of Georgia, we do know how many voters in each precinct voted, and from that we can allocate early votes. I’m always hesitant to round at an early stage (this would lead to significant discrepancies, especially here), so that’s why you get decimal points.

Oh, and for reading this far (including both sidenotes!), you get a prize in terms of more eye candy.

19 thoughts on “You Can Vote However You Like, or Analyzing Fulton County, Georgia”

  1. Awesome maps.  Does this mean Georgia will be getting political data for Georgia in Dave’s Redistricting App soon?

    With regard to the North Fulton/race issue, I think the Republicans’ days of pushing this issue, at least in its current form, are numbered.  If you look at those city numbers, Obama apparently overperformed among whites, even in North Fulton.  If you assume that every minority voter voted for Obama, then Obama would have gotten 27% of whites in Alpharetta, 26% in Johns Creek, 22% in Milton, 43% in Mountain Park, 30% in Roswell, and 35% in Sandy Springs.  And, of course, not every minority voter voted for Obama, so those numbers are actually higher.  And they’re all still better than Obama’s numbers among white voters statewide.

  2. I saw this on Facebook: “Everything you wanted to know about Fulton County, Georgia’s voting patterns (but were too afraid to ask)” and headed over here.

    I have a question (that maybe I was too afraid to ask?) that I’ve been wondering for awhile–the question hasn’t exactly consumed me, but I still think it’s an interesting one. You make the point about racial voting patterns in Fulton, and what really sticks out to me is voting trends in Atlanta. It seems like there’s a large concentration of white, liberal voters. The statistical evidence seems to point that way, as Obama received 79.5% of the vote share in Atlanta, while there is only a 44% black vote share, a difference of 35.5%. The only other city that has this difference is Mountain Park, a 43% difference. I’ve always felt as though there was a extreme racial polarization in terms of voting in GA, but I’m wondering if anyone could explain where the white liberals are, if there are any.

    Thanks jeffmd for the interesting post! Good work!

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