Can Cobb County swing back red?

As polls show a GOP wave washing over the nation and the State of Georgia, many are wondering if the Red Wave will be large enough to bath Cobb red again.

The early voting data has some bright spots for Cobb Republicans, but also for Cobb’s Democrats. Both may have no fingernails by the end of Election Night’s vote counting!

As noted in the graphic above, Cobb has finished early voting with Democrats squarely on top with 94,662 early (in-person and by mail) voters identified as Democrats. However, the GOP isn’t that far behind with 84,038 of its voters turning out. That means, forty-seven percent (47%) of early voters who can be identified by their party were GOP voters while fifty-three percent (53%) were identified as Democratic.

Here is where Republicans can get excited. In 2018, Brian Kemp received only 38.17% of the early vote (54,096 to Abram’s 82,390). Kemp would end up with a total of 44.53% of the vote in Cobb, gaining over six percentage points on Election Day.

What’s more, while the 2018 numbers are final vote totals, we can only make assumptions about the voters who have shown up thus far in 2022.

Above we can also see the difference Fair Fight made in Cobb between 2014 and 2018. In 2014, Governor Nathan Deal received the majority of both the early vote and Election Day votes, but Stacey Abrams’s group poured resources into Cobb in 2017 and 2018 adding more Democrats to the voter rolls and nearly doubling the Cobb Democratic turnout in 2018 as the Democratic vote went from 88,349 in 2014 to 168,767 in 2018. Brian Kemp improved by over 20,000 votes versus what Nathan Deal received four years before, but even with the higher vote numbers, Kemp wasn’t able to win Cobb.

Going into tomorrow’s election, identified Democrats hold an over 10,600 vote advantage, but that may not be enough. That advantage can easily be erased by the 23,197 early voters who cannot be identified by party. If these “swing voters” break heavily for Republicans, like swing voters in national polls have been doing in this election cycle, the Democrats’ vote advantage could be nearly gone, and with Republicans, as history has shown, having the clear advantage on Election Day, Cobb Democrats may find themselves a little short when the night is over.

In addition to the swing voters “swinging” to the GOP, at least for the top of the ticket, polling in Georgia is showing Brian Kemp having wide bi-partisan appeal. That means even some of the identified Democrats could be actually voting for Brian Kemp rather than Stacey Abrams.

Kemp’s coattails may be enough to have a few surprises for the GOP in Cobb on Election Day. While we likely won’t see the County break for Republican candidates like it last did in 2014, the fact that GOP early votes have increased by nearly 30,000 votes while the Democrats have only increased by just over 12,000 since 2018 should have Cobb’s Democrats a little nervous.

Another big question may be (and it may be a question that may never be answered) how many votes will the local Cobb County Republican Party leave on the table because of their members’ continued hostility towards the GOP ticket. Typically, districts are drawn to favor one party or the other to the point that the local party really can’t have much of an effect on the outcome. However, a party can make a difference in very close races, and races in Cobb will likely be close for the countywide races and legislative districts that are on the margin. The Democrats are nationally giving up on Congressional Districts that are Biden +7 or less (meaning Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by 7 points or less).

According to an analysis by the University of Princeton’s Gerrymandering Project, there are no Cobb legislative districts that are D+7 or less. The closest are State House Districts 43 (D+10) and 35 (D+14). On the GOP side, there is little hope for Democratic pick-ups given the GOP numbers, which the Red Wave will certainly add to. This may mean the Cobb GOP could not have done much to help secure a victory, but one could wonder what may happen if they try, especially given the GOP headwinds.

Even in the last couple of days, I have seen social media posts and emails from Cobb GOP county committee members who are encouraging those who are still angry Trump’s ticket did not win to write-in the names of other candidates and/or vote for Libertarian Party candidates, despite the fact the best hope to turn Cobb back a redder shade of purple would be to unite behind Governor Kemp.

Maybe, in the end, a Red Wave will save the Cobb GOP from itself, though the irony cannot be lost on the fact that leading that wave will be the Governor who the Cobb GOP censured for not being Republican enough.

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