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How did Columbus vote in the presidential election?

Residents swarmed Columbus’ early voting poll on Nov. 4, the last day to vote early in the 2016 presidential election.
Residents swarmed Columbus’ early voting poll on Nov. 4, the last day to vote early in the 2016 presidential election. Tim Chitwood/tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com

Donald Trump’s sweeping Electoral College victory surprised a lot of people nationwide Tuesday night, but no surprises lay in the results here in Columbus, where the divide between precincts voting for Trump and those going to Hillary Clinton largely mirrored the city’s racial makeup.

That’s typical here in a presidential election year: Precincts on the city’s south side vote for the Democrat; precincts to the north vote for the Republican. Though a couple of precincts have changed locations since the last presidential election in 2012, that trend has not. The precincts that existed then and now voted the same way, by nearly the same margins.

Overall, Trump got 26,901 votes to Clinton’s 39,602 in Columbus, or 39 percent to 57 percent, with Libertarian Gary Johnson drawing 2.6 percent and write-ins 1.2 percent.

Muscogee County typically votes for the Democratic presidential nominee by about 60 percent to the Republican’s 40 percent, as in 2012 when Barack Obama got 18,855 votes to Mitt Romney’s 13,121, or 60.2 to 38.9 percent.

The Libertarian did better this time around. Johnson in 2012 got only .68 percent.

Columbus is majority black, its active-voter demographics as of Nov. 1 showing 48,348 black voters to 42,344 white. Other ethnic groups reported in Georgia secretary of state statistics as of Nov. 1 were 96 American Indians or native Alaskans, 1,367 Asian-Pacific Islanders, 2,258 Hispanics, 1,289 designated “others” and 5,302 titled “unknown.”

“Active” voters are those who’ve recently voted, just registered, altered their voter registration information or conducted some other business with the elections system to show their interest. Voters who’ve not shown any recent interest are designated “registered,” but not “active.”

Columbus’ results were not alone in reflecting a racial divide. The pattern held statewide and across the nation, said Jacob Holt, a political science professor at Columbus State University.

“Really Clinton did well in areas where you had a larger African-American population,” he said.

Extremely well, in Columbus, but not always as well as Barack Obama in 2012.

Clinton country

Take Columbus’ Carver-Mack precinct that votes at the Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road, where Clinton got a whopping 95 percent of the total 2,203 votes cast, netting 2,089 votes to Trump’s 80, or 3.63 percent.

State statistics show that precinct has 3,222 active black voters and 115 white.

In 2012, Obama got 97 percent of the vote there, and challenger Mitt Romney got 2.6 percent.

Clinton caught nearly the same landslide at the Cusseta Road Church of Christ precinct, 3013 Cusseta Road, where she got 2,412 out 2,585 votes, or 93 percent. Trump got 125, or around 5 percent.

According to state stats, that precinct has 4,202 active black voters and 284 who are white.

Obama got 96 percent there to Romney’s 3.57 percent.

The Democrat had the same margin at the Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church, 4400 Old Cusseta Road, taking 2,925 out of 3,148 votes. Again she got 93 percent. Trump got a little less than 5 percent, with 141 votes.

State stats show that precinct is overwhelmingly African-American, with 4,023 black and 261 white active voters.

In 2012, Obama got 96 percent to Romney’s 3.46 percent at Cusseta Road.

The imbalance was nearly the same at the St. John-Belvedere precinct at the St. John AME Church, 3980 Steam Mill Road, where Clinton got 2,843 votes out of 3,077, or 92.4 percent to Trump’s 179, or 6 percent.

That precinct has 3,802 black voters and 321 who are white, according to the Georgia secretary of state. Obama got 94 to Romney’s 5 percent there in 2012.

The Democrat topped 90 percent at one other south Columbus precinct, Faith Tabernacle, 1603 Floyd Road. There Clinton got 2,162 out of 2,390 votes, or 90.46 percent to Trump’s 176, or 7.36 percent. That precinct has 2,952 active black and 316 white voters.

Ninety-three percent went to Obama in 2012, and 7 percent to Romney.

The Trump precincts

Nowhere in Muscogee County did Trump get 90 percent or more of a precinct vote.

He did best at Wynnbrook Baptist Church, 500 River Knoll Way, taking 1,402 out of 2,002 votes, or 70 percent, to Clinton’s 514, or 26 percent. The state says Wynnbrook has 2,001 active white voters and 172 who are black.

Seventy percent is impressive, but Romney did much better, taking 80 percent there to Obama’s 19 percent.

John Van Doorn, assistant political science professor of international relations at Troy University, thought that was a notable distinction.

“That really is a statistically significant number,” he said of the 10-point difference between Trump and Romney.

It shows those voters were not nearly as enthusiastic about this year’s Republican nominee, he said.

He compared it to Clinton’s showing at the Carver-Mack precinct voting at the library:

“In contrast, looking at the returns from Carver-Mack precinct, Obama gained 97.3 percent in 2012, while Clinton received 94.8 percent, a statistically insignificant difference of just over 2 percentage points.”

Trump had nearly 70 percent at another north Columbus voting poll, the St. Mark-Heiferhorn precinct at St. Mark United Methodist Church, 6795 Whitesville Road, where he got 2,929 out of the 4,230 votes cast, or 69.24 percent. Clinton got 1,129, or 27 percent.

State statistics show that precinct has 4,056 active white voters and 574 who are black.

In 2012, Romney got 73 percent there to Obama’s 26 percent.

So race remains a strong indicator of how a precinct will vote in a presidential election, Van Doorn said.

“I think we can say that race is a very sharp cleavage,” he said of Columbus’ north-south divide, but added, “The cleavages are not as strong this year as they were in 2012.”

By “cleavage” he means “sharp divisions based on voter characteristics,” he said.

“The primary cleavages in Columbus were evident in this year’s voter behavior, as they were in 2012, but with some subtle differences,” he wrote in an email. “While geography (north vs. south Columbus) continues to be the sharpest cleavage, this year levels of education played a more important role (which may help explain why north Columbus voters did not favor Trump as much as they did Romney in 2012), followed by race and economic class.”

Columbus has become increasingly diverse in its ethnic makeup, and that trend’s likely to spread across Georgia and other parts of the country, Van Doorn said.

“Columbus is different than much of the rest of the state and the nation as a whole, but demographic and voter behavior trends nationally mean that Columbus is probably a harbinger of future voter behavior,” he said.

As might be expected, precincts more evenly balanced racially did not show such wide margins in their vote tallies.

One 2016 voting precinct that was not a poll in 2012 is the Salvation Army Church, 5201 Warm Springs Road. According to state statistics, it has 1,308 active white voters and 732 who are black.

Its score was not so lopsided: Trump got 923 to Clinton’s 816, or 50.35 to 44.52 percent, with a total of 1,833 votes cast.

According to the Secretary of State, the Gentian-Reese Road precinct that votes at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 4400 Reese Road has 2,573 active white voters and 1,295 active black voters.

There the tally was Trump 1,607, Clinton 1,382, or 51 percent to 44 percent.

Romney outscored Trump there in 2012, taking 57 percent to Obama’s 42 percent.

The turnout

Turnout for this year’s election fell behind 2012 and 2008.

“The numbers were down across the board,” Van Doorn said.

This year 69,463 of 131,025 registered voters cast ballots, a turnout of 53 percent.

More residents voted in 2012: 70,962 out of 120,879, or 59 percent. And more voted in 2008 than in 2012: 74,428 out of 118,302, a turnout of 63 percent.

Turnout was heaviest in north Columbus. Wynnbrook Baptist Church had a turnout of 83.6 percent of active voters and 71 percent of all registered. The active-voter turnout in 2012 was 74 percent.

Wynnbrook had the best active-voter turnout in 2012, too, with 74 percent.

Two other north Columbus polls came close: The voting precinct at St. Mark United Methodist Church had an active voter turnout of 81 percent, and a 68 percent turnout of all voters registered there. In 2012, its active-voter turnout was 68 percent.

At the Psalmond Road Recreation Center, 6500 Psalmond Road, 81 percent of active voters cast ballots, and that was 67 percent of all those registered. The active-voter turnout in 2012 was 71 percent, second only to Wynnbrook’s and just ahead of St. Mark’s.

No other Columbus precinct this year topped 80 percent in active voter turnout, but a third north Columbus poll, at St. Peter United Methodist Church, had a 78 percent turnout of active voters and a 61 percent turnout of all registered. Its active-voter turnout in 2012 was 66 percent.

Only one poll on the south side of town topped 70 percent in active voter turnout.

The St. John AME Church had a 70.16 percent turnout of active voters, which was 56 percent of all registered there. That beat 2012, when the active-voter turnout was 67 percent.

THE PRESIDENTIAL VOTE BY COLUMBUS PRECINCT

PRECINCTS FAVORING HILLARY CLINTON

1. Carver-Mack, Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road: Clinton 2,089 (94.8%), Trump 80 (3.6%), Johnson 26 (1.2%)

2. Cusseta Road Church of Christ, 3013 Cusseta Road: Clinton 2,412 (93.3%), Trump 125 (4.8%), Johnson 32 (1.2%)

3. Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church, 4400 Old Cusseta Road: Clinton 2,925 (92.9%), Trump 141 (4.5%), Johnson 55 (1.8%)

4. St. John AME Church, 3980 Steam Mill Road: Clinton 2,843 (92.4%), Trump 179 (5.8%), Johnson 34 (1.1%)

5. Faith Tabernacle Church, 1603 Floyd Road: Clinton 2,162 (90.5%), Trump 176 (7.4%), Johnson 32 (1.3%)

6. Rothschild Middle School, 1136 Hunt Ave.: Clinton 3,110 (84.7%), Trump 464 (12.6%), Johnson 68 (1.9%)

7. National Infantry Museum, 1775 Legacy Way: Clinton 1,854 (83.3%), Trump 311 (14.0%), Johnson 40 (1.8%)

8. Fort Middle School, 2900 Woodruff Farm Road: Clinton 2,710 (81.4%), Trump 533 (16.0%), Johnson 60 (1.8%)

9. Eddy Middle School, 2100 S. Lumpkin Road: Clinton 1,329 (76.3%), Trump 370 (21.3%), Johnson 27 (1.6%)

10. Wynnton United Methodist Church, 2412 Wynnton Road: Clinton 2,040 (73.4%), Trump 621 (22.3%), Johnson 72 (2.6%)

11. First African Baptist Church, 901 Fifth Ave.: Clinton 571 (69.1%), Trump 206 (24.9%), Johnson 33 (4.0%)

12. Marianna Gallops Center, 1212 15th St.: Clinton 842 (68.9%), Trump 327 (26.8%), Johnson 44 (3.6%)

13. Edgewood Baptist Church, 3564 Forrest Road: Clinton 1,085 (61.4%), Trump 623 (35.3%), Johnson 44 (2.5%)

14. Epworth United Methodist Church, 2400 Devonshire Drive, 2nd Congressional District: Clinton 67 (58.8%), Trump 44 (38.6%), Johnson 3 (2.6%)

PRECINCTS FAVORING DONALD J. TRUMP

1. Wynnbrook Baptist Church, 500 River Knoll Way: Trump 1,402 (70.0%), Clinton 514 (25.7%), Johnson 57 (2.9%)

2. St. Mark United Methodist Church, 6795 Whitesville Road: Trump 2,929 (69.2%), Clinton 1,129 (26.7%), Johnson 105 (2.5%)

3. St. Peter United Methodist Church, 6507 Moon Road: Trump 1,327 (64.8%), Clinton 626 (30.6%), Johnson 59 (2.9%)

4. North Highland Assembly of God, 7300 Whittlesey Blvd.: Trump 2,076 (64.6%), Clinton 972 (30.3%), Johnson 114 (3.6%)

5. St. Paul United Methodist Church, 2101 Wildwood Ave., 2nd Congressional District: Trump 1,568 (62.0%), Clinton 822 (32.5%), Johnson 95 (3.8%)

6. Britt David Baptist Church, 2801 Britt David Road: Trump 913 (61.9%), Clinton 483, (32.8%), Johnson 52 (3.5%)

7. Cornerstone Church of God, 7701 Lloyd Road: Trump 2,169 (61.2%), Clinton 1,227 (34.6%), Johnson 111 (3.1%)

8. Epworth United Methodist Church, 2400 Devonshire Drive, 3rd Congressional District: Trump 1,222 (57.8%), Clinton 758 (35.8%), Johnson 89 (4.2%)

9. Psalmond Road Recreation Center, 6500 Psalmond Road: Trump 2,497 (55.4%), Clinton 1,830 (40.6%), Johnson 124 (2.8%)

10. St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 4980 Hancock Road: Trump 2,561 (55.2%), Clinton 1,833 (39.5%), Johnson 173 (3.7%)

11. Columbus Technical College, 928 Manchester Expressway: Trump 1,009 (54.3%), Clinton 760 (40.9%), Johnson 65 (3.5%)

12. St. Paul United Methodist Church, 2101 Wildwood Ave., 3rd Congressional District: Trump 498 (51.5%), Clinton 411 (42.5%), Johnson 37 (3.8%)

13. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 4400 Reese Road: Trump 1,607 (51.2%), Clinton 1,382 (44.0%), Johnson 108 (3.4%)

14. Salvation Army Church, 5201 Warm Springs Road: Trump 923 (50.4%), Clinton 816 (44.5%), Johnson 58 (3.2%)

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