Early this month, BWB wrote about a recent poll we commissioned. The poll gave a little insight into the current feelings of voters in the city of Atlanta. What we didn’t mention is that the poll showed a deeply divided city. In fact, it shows three separate sectors in the city.
Take a look at the results of the poll. Starting at page 89, the results are listed in District Groups as described below.
- Districts 3, 4, 10, 11, 12
- Districts 1, 2, 5, 9
- Districts 6, 7, 8
For those that aren’t familiar with the city voting districts, these groupings are essentially the South Side, middle, and North Side of Atlanta, respectively.
Not surprisingly, South Side voters are overwhelming minority and democrats while North Side voters are overwhelming white and more conservative. Middle Atlanta is evenly split racially and ideologically.
On the South Side, economic development, job creation, and protecting city services are the most important issues while voters on the North Side are most concerned about public safety and ethics. North Side and South Side voters strongly disagree with paying additional taxes for the Beltline while middle Atlanta voters are more likely to accept tax increases for the project.
The farther North you go, the less voters are worried about improving the services they receive from the city and protecting those services from cuts. This could mean the city is paying more attention to delivering services in middle and North Atlanta or it could be a difference in voter expectations about those services. Either way, this data should be insightful for those serving, or looking to serve, in public office in the city.
Most surprisingly, voters on the South Side are the only voters really concerned about keeping their taxes low. Voters on the North Side and middle appear to accept their taxes and the services they receive from those taxes as long it is done in an ethical and honest manner.
The differences in the opinions of the three sectors of voters are clear. Why does it all matter? It matters because traditionally citywide Atlanta elections have been decided by the swath of voters in the middle. Voters on the North and South typically cancel each other out, assuming similar voter turnout, and it’s up to the voters in Middle Atlanta to swing the elections one way or another.
We expect this trend to continue – and it should. Middle Atlanta is what makes Atlanta politics great. It’s what has always separated Atlanta from other Southern cities polarized by demographics. Middle Atlanta is multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-ideology, and mult-partisan. Hopefully our public servants, and prospective public servants, take note.