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Who turned out for Trump

Georgia's presidential election was closer this year, but there were some significant changes in who showed up at the polls.

By: Kristina Torres and Jennifer Peebles
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

T he 2016 presidential election has been over for nearly a month but not until now do we know exactly who cast a ballot a Georgia.

The 2016 presidential election has been over for nearly a month but not until now do we know exactly who cast a ballot a Georgia.

Older white voters cast a disproportionate share of ballots in November, fewer than half of all black men registered to vote here voted and infrequent voters came off the sidelines in much greater numbers than four years ago, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of the latest data available from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

There is no way to say who these voters actually voted for — that information by law is private. But we know Republican nominee Donald Trump won the state — and the White House.

Key takeaways

Whites still dominate the ballot box, despite representing a shrinking share of registered voters:

  • 61 percent of people who cast ballots in 2016 were white, while whites represent 56 percent of registered voters in Georgia.
  • 28 percent of people who cast ballots in 2016 were black, while blacks represent 30 percent of registered voters in Georgia.

But fewer longtime registered voters turned out:

  • 70 percent of white voters in 2016 also voted in 2012, a nearly 6-point drop from those voting in 2012 who had also voted in 2008.
  • 69 percent of black voters in 2016 also voted in 2012, about a 1-point drop from those voting in 2012 who had also voted in 2008.
  • -5 percent: Overall percentage decrease of voters who voted in 2016 and 2012 from voters who voted in 2012 and 2008.

Newly registered voters, meanwhile, accounted for a bigger share of ballots, including those who had never before registered to vote in Georgia and those whose registration had lapsed before they reupped it:

  • 12 percent of people who cast ballots in the November 2016 presidential election had registered to vote this year.
  • 10 percent of people who cast ballots in the November 2012 presidential election also registered to vote that year.

So did the number of people voting early ahead of Election Day:

  • 6 percent increase in people voting early or absentee-by-mail, 2016 over 2012.

A stark urban vs. rural divide

10,400 votes: About the number picked up by President-Elect Donald Trump over Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. Trump got them from across the state and overperformed in North Georgia and the outer suburbs of metro Atlanta. Trump ended up with 51 percent of the statewide vote; Romney got 53 percent.

104,000 votes: About the number of votes picked up by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over President Barack Obama four years ago. They all came, however, from core metro counties or around Savannah. Clinton lost ground in rural Georgia and significantly underperformed Obama in key majority-minority counties. In Richmond, Clayton and Dougherty counties alone, Clinton “lost” more than 10,000 votes compared with what Obama received in 2012. In the end, however, both candidates walked away with 46 percent of the vote.

12,000 votes: In his three top overperforming counties — Cherokee, Hall and Forsyth — Trump got at least this many votes more than Romney.

71 percent: Voter turnout in Forsyth County, the highest of any county in metro Atlanta’s core and exurbs.

Map: 2016 vs. 2012

Donald Trump won Georgia even though some large GOP strongholds in metro Atlanta turned blue. Trump made up for those losses by running up his margins in the state's more rural areas.

Who voted in 2016

Overall turnout among Georgia’s registered voters, by subgroup, in 2016:

Males — 59 percent

Females — 65 percent

Whites overall — 68 percent

  • White males — 67 percent
  • White females — 68 percent

Blacks overall — 57 percent

  • Black males — 49 percent
  • Black females — 63 percent

Latinos — 54 percent

Asians — 53 percent

Voters by age

Millennials (ages 18-34):

  • 22 percent of voters last month were millennials, a decrease of 1 percentage point from 2012. That’s despite millennials making up about 29 percent of all registered voters.

GenX voters (ages 35-51):

  • 29 percent of voters last month were GenX-ers, a more than 2-percentage-point drop from 2012. Still, they were about on target as they make up about 28 percent of all registered voters.

Baby boomers plus (52 and older)

  • 47 percent of voters last month were at least 52 years old, an increase of more than 3 percentage points over 2012. They outperformed their share (42 percent) of the state’s voting rolls.

Who voted in 2016

Overall turnout among Georgia’s registered voters, by subgroup, in 2016:

Males — 59 percent

Females — 65 percent

Whites overall — 68 percent

  • White males — 67 percent
  • White females — 68 percent

Blacks overall — 57 percent

  • Black males — 49 percent
  • Black females — 63 percent

Latinos — 54 percent

Asians — 53 percent

Voters by age

Millennials (ages 18-34):

  • 22 percent of voters last month were millennials, a decrease of 1 percentage point from 2012. That’s despite millennials making up about 29 percent of all registered voters.

GenX voters (ages 35-51):

  • 29 percent of voters last month were GenX-ers, a more than 2-percentage-point drop from 2012. Still, they were about on target as they make up about 28 percent of all registered voters.

Baby boomers plus (52 and older)

  • 47 percent of voters last month were at least 52 years old, an increase of more than 3 percentage points over 2012. They outperformed their share (42 percent) of the state’s voting rolls.
Vote by participation

New voters in Georgia — those who’d never registered before — as well as voters who vote so infrequently that the state considers them “inactive” both turned out in November at higher rates than four years ago. Inactive voters, in fact, came out in greater numbers in the rural and North Georgia counties won by Trump — he grabbed 71 of the 80 counties where inactive voters accounted for at least 2.5 percent of votes cast.

New voters:

  • 13 percent — New voters in 2016 who appear to have voted for the first time ever in Georgia.
  • 12 percent — New voters in 2012 who appear to have voted for the first time ever in Georgia.

Inactive voters:

  • 0.03 percent — 2012 voters who were “inactive” at the time they cast a presidential election ballot.
  • 2.5 percent — 2016 voters who were “inactive” at the time they cast a presidential election ballot.
  • 2.2 percent — Percentage of white voters who were “inactive” in 2016 when they voted. About 30 percent of these voters also voted in 2012.
  • 2.8 percent — Percentage of black voters who were “inactive” in 2016 when they voted. About half — 50 percent — of them voted in 2012.

Map: Unlikely voters

Registered voters who vote so infrequently that the state considers them “inactive” turned out at a much highter rate than in 2012. The counties shown below had at least 2.5 percent of their votes come from voters who sat out the 2012 election. The vast majority of these counties were Trump strongholds.

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Graphics and design by Isaac Sabetai. Data visualization Specialist Jonathan Cox contributed to this story.