Search This Blog


If Malone stays out, GOP has better shot in Shreveport

The all-but announced entry of Liz Swaine into the Shreveport mayoral derby probably sets the major-candidate field for the 2006 contest. While state Sen. Max Malone has said he will let everybody know by qualifying (Aug. 9-11) whether he will be a candidate, it seems unlikely, for two reasons.

First, for a Sep. 30 primary launching officially a race for mayor leaves it a bit late; Malone really needs to start media buys prior to then and there’s no evidence of that. Also, with Swaine’s entry the field has become more fragmented, and the reality of electoral politics for this contest is that a late entry of a quality candidate such as Malone not only would not leave him with much of a chance against other quality candidates, but it would decrease the chances of white candidates as well.

Until the primary, the Shreveport electorate needs to be conceived as participating in two distinct contests. There will be little crossover voting in the primary, especially with so many candidates appealing to identifiable segments of the electorate. Thus, state Rep. Cedric Glover and television executive Ed Bradley will almost exclusively divvy up the black vote (newcomer Madjun Ali will receive little of this vote), while Democrat Swaine and Republicans former city official Jerry Jones, current city official Arlena Acree, and retiree Vernon Adams will divide the white vote, roughly in that order.

The two black candidates must share about half of the electorate, while four white candidates must share the roughly other half. As the number of white candidates increases, the odds lengthen that any one of them would exceed the primary vote of both black candidates separately. So, a Malone entrance would make matters worse for all white candidates, most of all for Jones who has picked up support from most Republican Party regulars and most conservative activists.

Swaine’s entrance hurts Acree and Glover the most. White Democrat loyalists without a standard-bearer would have been most likely to gravitate in those directions, but now have Swaine to support. The domino effect it produces also assists Bradley and Jones, by pulling away relatively more support from Glover and Acree.

However, Swaine probably does not have enough upside to make it into the general election runoff. While she likely will head up the list of choices of the dying breed of moderate white Democrats, liberals probably would move to Glover and conservatives to Jones (and almost all blacks going for Glover or Bradley), leaving her too few votes. Her best strategy will be of mobilization; no candidate will do better among occasional voters whose decisions on candidates rest mainly on name recognition and positive affect towards a candidate, not from any study of issues.

Bradley’s chameleon campaign might have been adversely impacted by Swaine’s entrance, but apparently a decision was made there long ago to build as his coalition’s chief base blacks attracted by the playing of the race card, evidenced by his initial refusal, then reluctant disavowal of racist propaganda belittling black politicians who chose to build coalitions with whites. Whether this “blame whitey” chunk of the electorate is enough of a core on which to make a runoff, however, is questionable.

Nevertheless, Swaine’s entry has made Bradley’s prospects noticeably brighter, although Glover still has the edge as the “black” frontrunner. Jones has solidified his status as the “white” frontrunner by her entry by virtue of activist support and resources on hand that will get his message out. Malone’s throwing his hat into the ring, however, not only would divide the Jones vote, but probably would create a situation with two blacks in the runoff in a city where blacks make up less than half the electorate.

The proportion of the electorate comprised by the different races that vote will be the key to the eventual winner. At this point, a Glover-Jones runoff seems the most likely. In any black Democrat/white Republican scenario, crucial would be registration in the city at the end of August and relative turnout. Statistics suggest that white registrations will lag non-whites by about 2,000 by then, but keeping in mind that white turnout exceeded non-white turnout in the 2002 primary by 2.5 percent, this indicates such a runoff would be very close indeed. In this scenario, the quality of campaign organizations becomes most critical and every vote will count.

No comments: