Despite attention, Georgia’s 6th District doesn’t have many new voters

Voters brandish their Georgia voting stickers after leaving the Cobb County main elections office. HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM

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Voters brandish their Georgia voting stickers after leaving the Cobb County main elections office. HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM

Millions of dollars, hundreds of volunteers and dozens of national pundits have all made Tuesday's 6th Congressional District special election a must-watch race nationally, but the one thing missing may be the most important:

Crowds of new voters stirred by President Donald Trump’s victory in November.

An analysis of state voter data by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows that voter registration in the northern Atlanta suburbs that form the district has barely budged since the November presidential election.

While Democrats have pinned their hopes on front-runner Jon Ossoff, a party favorite who has so far outpaced the race's 17 other candidates, they're also facing a stark reality.

The 6th District electorate is essentially the same as the one that just last fall overwhelmingly re-elected Republican Tom Price but narrowly went for Trump for president.

By the numbers

2.5 percent — The percent increase in 6th District registered voters since the presidential election. It tied for the fourth-lowest increase among Georgia’s 14 congressional districts in new registrations since then.

12,456 — Number of people who registered in the 6th District since the presidential election. By comparison, one of the biggest increases (third-highest) was in U.S. Rep. John Lewis’ 5th District, which saw more than 19,600 people register during a time that saw the civil rights icon trade barbs with Trump on Twitter.

61 percent — Registered 6th District voters who are white. While the new group overall tends to make the electorate slightly more male, younger and nonwhite, the overall percentage of white voters in the district has only dropped a half percentage point since the presidential election. The 6th District overall outpaces the statewide average for registered white voters by 5 percentage points.

27.7 percent — Millennials make up only about one-quarter of the electorate. The group with a firm hold on the rolls is who we call baby boomers plus, those age 52 and older, who make up more than 42 percent of the district’s registered voters.

What it means

While there are relatively few new voters, the 6th District overall tends to be a highly motivated district. Turnout in the district during the presidential election topped 66 percent. That's compared with a statewide turnout of 63 percent.

And while it’s low on the registration count compared with other districts, one factor may be that there aren’t a ton of unregistered (but eligible) people there.

Looking at current registered voters as a percentage of 2015 population estimates (the most recent data available from the Census Bureau), the 6th District looks to have the highest percentage of all the congressional districts in the state.

The key takeaway, however, is that little has changed among the makeup of voters in the district. The 6th has long been a Republican stronghold. It's more a question whether the national debate has changed any minds.

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