Search This Blog


Racial voting carries Jefferson to likely nomination

Yesterday we learned why legally-challenged Rep. Bill Jefferson was able to come in first in the Democrat primary for his Second Congressional District seat. Here, we’ll see why he will win the runoff against former television reporter Helena Moreno in the Nov. 4 nomination runoff.

The first part is its usual, if not somewhat lamentable, self: race. Most analysts, drawing upon their experiences without resorting to detailed use of numbers, argue that there are too many black voters present for Moreno, who is Hispanic, to be able to defeat the black Jefferson. It’s just the way things are in and around Orleans Parish: in a black vs. non-black contest, non-blacks will vote largely for the non-black candidate, while blacks will vote overwhelmingly for the black candidate.

The numbers confirm this. Of the 492 precincts in the district, 93 or almost 19 percent have total registrations (not just Democrat and independent ones who were the only ones who could vote in this contest; several more would be added if Republicans were removed) of fewer than 2.5 percent white voters. They represented 10,569 of the 69,149 votes cast, or 15.28 percent votes cast. They may be used as a close proxy for the proportion of the black vote received by the candidates (but will slightly underestimate the black vote received by Moreno because in mixed-race neighborhoods there tends to be more crossover voting, and thereby will overestimate it for the black candidates).

Reviewing the results of these, Moreno cannot win. She received slightly less than 4 percent of the black vote. Jefferson got a little over 38 percent of this vote, with the other five black candidates obviously receiving the remaining 58 percent or so. Keep in mind Jefferson got about 25 percent of the overall vote, Moreno about 20 percent, and that the registration of blacks among Democrats and independents in the district is a little over 68 percent. (Interestingly, multiplying Jefferson’s share of the black share of the vote with the black proportion in the district puts him almost exactly at his percentage for the election, suggesting he received almost no non-black votes.)

Therefore, in order to win, assuming everybody who voted in the primary will turn out for the runoff and no non-blacks vote for Jefferson, he needs only 45 percent of the remaining vote to win of which it appears about three-quarters are black. Going by race alone, Jefferson is 30 points to the good.

One could argue that perceptions of corruption would trump racial voting in this case. But even if just 60 percent of black voters who voted for other black candidates in the primary put racial voting first, Jefferson wins. And the electorate well may be expanded in Jefferson’s favor with the presence at the top of the ticket of black Sen. Barack Obama. Further, the vanquished opponents could go into the tank for Jefferson, not endorsing her in the hope he wins and then resigns upon a future conviction, reopening the seat for them.

Moreno shouldn’t give up – anything could happen including underestimating public revulsion over Jefferson’s alleged misconduct. But some unusual things are going to have to happen for her to advance to the general election.

No comments: