Originally created 02/26/03

Race may have not played role in election



ATLANTA -- A new analysis of the election last November that gave Georgia its first Republican governor in 130 years disputes the contention of some analysts that Gov. Sonny Perdue owes his election to a better-than-average turnout among whites.

Data released Tuesday by Secretary of State Cathy Cox shows little change in the percentages of white and black voters, compared to the gubernatorial election in 1998.

Perdue defeated Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes, who blamed his loss in part on anger among white voters for his 2001 decision to all but eliminate the rebel battle symbol from the state flag.

"There was a lot of speculation that a big groundswell of white males turned the election but this data did not show that," said Chris Riggall, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's office. "The overall pie looks almost identical to what it did last election, so what this data tells me is that it wasn't who voted but who they decided to vote for."

In fact, white voters showed slight reductions in voter turnouts between 1998 and 2002.

White voters represented 76.08 percent of the electorate in 1998 and 75.73 percent in 2002. White males were down from 36.75 in 1998 percent to 36.74 percent. White females were down slightly less from 39.33 percent to 38.97 percent in 2002.

The number of black voters was also down from 22.86 percent in 1998 to 22.60 percent last election. According to the data, voter registration and participation by black males continued to lag far behind that of black females.

Black males made up 8.38 percent of the voting population in 1998 and 8.34 percent in 2002, compared to black women making up 14.48 percent in 1998 and 14.26 percent in 2002.

"Other" voters, including Asians, Hispanics and Pacific Islanders, gained a percentage share of the electoral vote from 1.03 percent in 1998 to 1.67 percent last year.

Voter participation also increased significantly with age, results showed.

The highest percentage turnout was among voters 60-64 years-old, that had a nearly 71 percent turnout. The turnout percentage of young adults aged 18-24 years-old was nearly 50 points lower.

A look at Georgia voter turnout from 1998 and 2002 elections

Total blacks:

1998 - 414,156; 22.86 percent

2002 - 458,640; 22.60 percent

Total whites:

1998 - 1,378,007; 76.08 percent

2002 - 1,536,635; 75.73 percent

Total other:

1998 - 18,720; 1.03 percent

2002 - 33,941; 1.67 percent

Source: Secretary of State's Office