Post Election Political Miscellany @ 11/7/08

Barack Obama won the election for president thanks to huge winning margins among black and Hispanic voters. This is from exit poll survey results on the CNN website:

Source: CNN/National Exit Poll

Overall, Obama got 43% of the white vote. By contrast, John Kerry got 41% of the white vote when he ran for president in 2004.

But here’s the thing about the white vote. The electoral map for this election is shown below. The blue sates were won by Obama, the red states by John McCain. Note that, the darker the color, the greater the margin of victory for each of the states:


John McCain won a swath of “deep red” states stretching from Texas and Oklahoma in the southwest to Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama in the southeast. I would bet that outside the South, Obama won half or more of the white vote-a fact that might indicate something about race relations and racial politics in the South versus the rest of the country.

While Barack Obama achieved success in his run for the presidency, the results for other black candidates running for major offices were not so favorable.

Vivian Davis Figures lost the election for one of Alabama’s US Senate seats against Republican incumbent Jeff Sessions. Figures, who represents Mobile in the Alabama state senate, raised just $316,434 for her election campaign through October 15th; Session raised $6,262,265 through the same date.

Vivian Davis Figures of Alabama
Vivian Davis Figures

Sessions was re-elected with 63% of the vote, versus just 37% for Figures.

Meanwhile, Erik Fleming had an equally rough time in his bid to win one of Mississippi’s US Senate seats from the incumbent, Republican Thad Cochran.

Erik Fleming of Mississippi
Erik Fleming

As of October 15, Cochran had raised $2,555,853 for the election. Meanwhile, Fleming, who is a former member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, had not even filed a financial report.

Cochran got 62% of the vote compared to just 38% for Fleming.

A breakdown between black and white Democrats in Louisiana did in fact lead Democrats to lose a seat in the House of Representatives.

As discussed earlier, Michael Jackson, an African American member of the Louisiana state senate, renounced his Democratic Party membership to run as an Independent in the House race for the state’s 6th Congressional district. Jackson ran against Democratic incumbent Don Cazayoux and Republican challenger Bill Cassidy.

Cassidy won the election after getting 48% of the vote. Jackson wound up with 11% of the vote (which presumably came mainly from black Democrats), and Cazayoux got 40%.

Had Jackson not run, Cazayoux would almost certainly have gotten his votes, and outpolled Cassady. But given the racial split in the Democratic vote, Cassady was able to prevail.

Jackson probably hoped that black voters, who make up 33% of the district’s population, would support his election bid. Only a plurality of votes was needed to win the election, and if Cassidy and Cazayoux had split the white, Jackson might have pulled off an upset. But things didn’t work out that way.

As reported at Louisiana’s 2 The

Jackson led in many precincts with majority black voters during the spring primary, but many of those votes switched to Cazayoux when he became the only Democrat in the race.

Barack Obama recorded a message supporting the re-election of Cazayoux, which was phoned to voters in the 6th District.

Jackson dispelled criticism that his candidacy cost Cazayoux the race. “They tried to take a little air out of our campaign by calling us the spoiler,” Jackson said of Cazayoux. “We’re not here to spoil anybody’s message. We’re here to discuss the issues, and I think that message was received.”

Jackson said he plans on keeping his No Party status. He said he thinks his move helps evolve politics in Louisiana, “that there are other ways of approaching races.”

In his post-election comments, Republican winner Cassidy said “It’s a conservative district, and I’m a conservative.”

In two other notable Louisiana races, William “Cold Cash” Jefferson is headed to a December run-off election in Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district. Jefferson won over 55% of the vote on Tuesday against Helena Moreno, a former TV news anchor and political newcomer.

Jefferson is heavily favored to win the December 6 general election against Republican candidate Anh “Joseph” Cao, Green Party candidate Malik Rahim, Libertarian Party candidate Gregory Kahn and independent Jerry Jacobs. Those other candidates have been described as “poorly financed opponents with scant name recognition.”

Jefferson was indicted in 2007 on 16 counts related to an alleged bribery. His trial is expected to begin in December, after the elections.

Meanwhile, Don Cravins Jr. lost his bid to win the election for Louisiana’s 7th Congressional District seat. Cravins, an African American Louisiana state senator, ran against Republican incumbent Charles Boustany.

Don Cravins

Through October 15, Cravins raised $431,250, while Boustany raised $1,442,150. Cravins did receive support from the National Democratic Party (actually, from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee), but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Cravins got 34% of the vote, versus 62% for Boustany.

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