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Capitol Recap: Younger voter totals do a number on Georgia, elsewhere

Searches for young voters usually take place within the realm of mythical beasts, among the sasquatches, unicorns and Godzilla.

In 2018, however, they walked among us. In lines at polling stations for the midterm elections.

Warning: Many numbers this way come.

Young adults nationally helped power an 11-point surge in overall voting totals in last year’s midterms, compared with 2014 when turnout hit a 74-year low. That comes from data the U.S. Census Bureau released this past week.

Voters between the ages of 18 and 29 upped their game by 16 percentage points. It was pretty simple math: They jumped from 20% in 2014 to 36% in November. The Washington Post called it the age group’s best performance in a midterm since the 1980s.

Rising one level to ages 30-44 saw a boost nearly as big. They grew from 36% in 2014 to 49% in November.

In Georgia, some of the numbers were even more impressive.

While 37% of voters ages 25 to 34 turned out nationally, 43% of Georgians in that age group made it to the polls.

Nationally, 44% of voters ages 35 to 44 cast ballots. In Georgia, the figure topped 50%.

Of course, it was a big year for voting overall in Georgia. For the general election, turnout was 61.44%. That far surpasses 2014, when 50.03% of Georgia voters cast ballots not only in a governor’s race, but also a contest for an open U.S. Senate seat.

So what does 2018 mean for 2020 and beyond?

Harvard University released a poll of young voters this week that offers some insight.

The data is liable to cause stomachaches among Republicans, but the results also point to a generational divide that could leave some Democrats feeling queasy.

The survey of 3,000 likely voters between the ages of 18 and 29 shows they are frequently at odds with the Grand Old Party.

For starters, two-thirds said they are likely to pick up a Democratic ballot during next year’s presidential primaries.

By itself, that probably isn’t so upsetting for Republicans. The GOP primaries don’t promise the kind of suspense you might see in a rerun of “The Apprentice.” President Donald Trump will likely coast to the nomination, although former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld said recently that he will contest Trump in the state-by-state march.

These other findings, however, could prompt top Republicans to reach for the antacid:

  • -- 20% think the country is headed in the right direction.
  • -- 11% approve of Trump’s handling of health care issues.
  • -- 7% like the president’s approach to climate change.
  • -- 5% like how Trump is handling race relations.

Don’t get too excited, Democrats. A little acid reflux is also headed your way, especially among your more senior members.

Eighteen percent of the poll’s respondents said elected officials from the baby boomer generation care about people like them.

The number is only slightly better, at 22%, when the young adults are asked whether baby boomer voters care about them.

That can’t be too encouraging for candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

That may be why Warren proposed wiping out $640 billion in outstanding student loan debt. Her plan would eliminate up to $50,000 in student loan debt for each person with less than $100,000 in household income.

Can we see any impact young voters might have in Georgia?

A quick examination of the crosstabs in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll published earlier this month showed Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s approval rating rose steadily as the voters got older. In the 18-29 age group, he got 34.1%. For ages 30 to 44, it climbed to 43.5%.

Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue fared a little better. Maybe they like the jean jacket.

His approval rating was 38.6% among the 18-29 group. It rose to 43.8% for ages 30 to 44.

Democrat Stacey Abrams, who lost to Kemp in November and may run against Perdue next year, was more appealing.

The 18-29 group gave her an approval rating of 48.2 percent. The 30-44 set was even kinder, giving her 55.2%.

Even more data: The Morning Consult this past week produced an expansive poll on governors and U.S. senators.

In Georgia, the news is best for Perdue. He placed in the top half of senators at No. 31.

That could indicate strength for Trump in the Peach State, since Perdue is among the president’s top allies in the Senate.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who hasn’t given Trump the full embrace Perdue has exhibited, came in at No. 64.

In the poll, Perdue also sports a 76% approval rating among the state’s Republicans, putting him at No. 17 on a list of the 20 Republican senators with the highest party approval. Isakson did not make the list.

Among governors, Kemp fell in fair-to-middling territory at 27th out of 50 for voter approval in his or her state.

Looking for more numbers: Republicans also got in the survey game this past week.

Thousands of Georgians went to their mailboxes and found envelopes stuffed with forms labeled “2019 Congressional District Census.” The federal government will soon begin its 2020 census, but these forms were for the GOP.

First, there were a few warmup questions: How strongly did the recipients identify as Republicans? Will they support Trump?

Other questions followed that may give you an idea what to look for in stump speeches in the coming year:

  • -- Do you believe the national media has a strong bias against all things Donald Trump and Republican and fails to tell America’s voters the real facts about Republican policies, principles, goals and accomplishments?
  • -- Do you think “political correctedness” (their word) has gotten out of hand?
  • -- Do you think the Democratic Party as a whole is promoting a Socialist agenda for America?
  • -- Do you support the Democrats’ call to raise taxes as high as 70%?

Perdue’s paperwork problem: Perdue shelled out $30,000 to the Federal Election Commission as a fine for campaign finance violations dating to his election in 2014.

The Associated Press reported that an FEC auditor “found Perdue’s campaign took more than $117,000 in prohibited contributions during the previous campaign, as well as more than $325,000 that exceeded legal limits on campaign donations.”

It added that the Perdue campaign also did not disclose “$128,972 in debts and obligations.”

Perdue campaign consultant Derrick Dickey said: “After undergoing an exhaustive four-year-long random audit process, we reached a reasonable settlement agreement regarding some typical bookkeeping errors that occur on a campaign of this size in order to bring this matter to close.”

New in the 7th Congressional District: Another Republican has entered the race to replace U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville.

Lynne Homrich, a former Home Depot executive and the founder of a nonprofit organization, joins former pro football player Joe Profit on the GOP side of the contest. Profit was last seen in November losing a bid in the 4th Congressional District against Democratic U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson of Lithonia.

Another Republican who soon could join the 7th District race is state Sen. Renee Unterman of Buford.

Woodall announced this year that he will not seek re-election in 2020. He barely survived the 2018 midterm election, winning by fewer than 500 votes in the tightest U.S. House contest in the nation.

That put the 7th District on Democratic dartboards for 2020.

Carolyn Bourdeaux, the Democrat who lost that tight race to Woodall, is running again. Other Democrats in the mix are attorney Marqus Cole, former Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves and activist Nabilah Islam. State Rep. Brenda Lopez of Norcross says she will soon announce whether she also will run.

Homrich, like Eaves, recently moved into the district, which covers parts of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties. Her announcement prompted a tweet from Unterman of the “bless her heart” variety.

She wrote: “Maybe that Buckhead lady running for #7thCongressional district might need some directions to #Cumming #Lawrenceville; turn on that Mercedes GPS for I-85 north or GA 400, be glad to show you around”

Brandon Phillips, the former Georgia chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign, seemed only slightly more welcoming in responding to Homrich’s pledge to support the president.

“Didn’t know she had a change of heart on the President,” Phillips wrote in his own tweet. “That’s good. Now we just need to get her voting in Republican primaries.”

Democrats were also tough on Homrich.

A 2018 repeat in 2020: Republican Alex Kaufman, who lost last year’s race for an open seat in state House District 51, is set to run again. Democrat Josh McLaurin won the district that Sandy Springs Republican Wendell Willard had long held.

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