Sunday, October 17, 2010

Courting the Black vote in the rural South

Kevin Sack reports in today's New York Times on the importance of Black voter turnout in the mid-term election. The story focuses primarily on the South, including a number of counties and electoral districts in the so-called Black Belt. Sack uses the situation in North Carolina's Eighth Congressional District to illustrate the phenomenon. There, Democrat Larry Kissell, a white man, unseated the Republican incumbent in 2008. But Kissell voted against health care reform, which has turned many of the Black electorate against him.

Here's an excerpt from the story that mentions the rural nature of various districts where Democrats are in trouble:
Without Mr. Obama atop the ticket this year, Mr. Kissell and a number of other vulnerable Democrats, mostly in the rural South, face the challenge of reviving the spirit of 2008 for black voters without alienating right-leaning white majorities in their districts.
That is the only use of the word "rural" in the story, and Sack does not explain or analyze any apparent relevance of the rural-urban axis to this political phenomenon. But the story's dateline is Laurinburg, North Carolina, population 15,874, county seat of Scotland County. On the South Carolina line, nonmetropolitan Scotland County is part of the district that Mr. Kissell represents. Scotland County's population is 37.3% Black, 51.5% white, and nearly 9% American Indian/Alaska Native. It is a high-poverty county where 20.6% of individuals and 17.4% of families are living below the poverty line. It is not a persistent poverty county, but it is contiguous to a cluster of three such counties. (See more detail on poverty among North Carolina's counties here).

Other districts where Democratic representatives are in trouble include these six districts, where Blacks comprise more than 10% of voters: Alabama's 2d; South Carolina's 5th; Georgia's 8th; Mississippi's 1st; Florida's 2d; and Maryland's 1st. See an accompanying NYT graphic here.


broc said...

Good early voting numbers for Georgia gov race. In that period in 2006, about 60,000 African Americans voted. And even though in total African Americans made up 24% of all ballots cast in Georgia, in the early voting period they accounted for less than 17% of voters. Enough background, what is happening this year?

Well, with the final week of early voting not even upon us, African American voters have already cast more than 68,000 ballots. That's more than the 2006 total and we still have 7 days of early voting to go plus election day. By comparison, white voters cast 284,000 votes in the early period of 2006 and have cast just over 202,000 this year.

Anonymous said...

The way to reach Black voters is via word-of-mouth, not the airwaves.
They know the Teapublicans hate them (and if not, I don't hesitate to remind them!), and a few local speakers in church can be very effective.

Whites and Blacks don't communicate in the media, so a candidate can and should run two campaigns.