Dooly County is definitely south of the metaphorical and political ‘gnat line’-approximately one hour south of Macon right down Interstate 75.
In the last few election cycles, Dooly has been one of the exceptions for the most part in regard to the conservative tidal wave that hit most areas south of Macon since 2000.
Dooly is a majority-minority county in which African-Americans make up 49.5% of the population and Latinos comprise 5.4 percent.
Dooly County’s largest two cities are Unadilla and Vidalia, and the county is known for cotton and peanut production, but most known for The Big Pig Jig, Georgia’s official State Barbecue Cooking Championship, which is held in early October.
There are only five voting precincts in Dooly County: Unadilla, Vienna, Lilly, Byromville and Pinehurst.
The largest voting location is in Vienna with approximately 2,400 registered voters and the second largest is Unadilla with approximately 1,500 registered voters.
In 2008, every precinct except Pinehurst was won by Barack Obama on Election Day.
Pinehurst is by far the most conservative precinct in Dooly County, but it is the second smallest voting precinct as well with approximately 500 registered voters. John McCain won 64% of the vote while Obama had won between 57 and 60 percent of the popular vote in the other four precincts in Dooly County.
One example of the Democrats’ strength in Dooly County is the 2006 governor’s race. Mark Taylor was trounced by Republican Sonny Perdue in his re-election bid by twenty percentage points, but Taylor was able to win this county with 49.11% of the vote to Perdue’s 48.47% in the middle of a Perdue landslide victory statewide.
Usually, in mid-term election cycles Republicans are more energized and in Dooly, the statistical tie becomes a probability.
One other example is that Perdue had managed a statistical tie with Roy Barnes with each receiving 49.2 percent of the vote.
In regard to presidential politics since 1992, this county has voted for Bill Clinton twice, Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama.
Sometimes voter apathy among Democrats in Dooly may make it more competitive and allow conservatives to limit gains which could help with the overall vote totals in a tight race. However, increase participation could help a Democrat like Roy Barnes avoid a runoff against Nathan Deal in November.
Every vote counts.
The average margin of victory has ranged between 2 to 8 percent, but with a growing Latino population along with stronger participation from other progressive Democrats in Unadilla and Vienna, Dooly County could garner double digit victories for Democrats in future election cycles.