The New York Times‘ Southern correspondent Adam Nossiter has an interesting article today about how Barack Obama could galvanize hundreds of thousands of African-American votes in the South. He notes that black turnout in the South Carolina primary more than doubled from 2004, to 295,0000, and increased in Georgia from 289,000 four years ago to 536,000.
“Southern states with large black populations, like Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia, an energized black electorate could create a countervailing force,” writes Nossiter. “Already, turnout in Democratic primaries this year has substantially exceeded Republican turnout in states like Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.”
This is very true, but the problem for Democrats is that all things will likely not remain equal. What I mean is that if black turnout is way up in the South fueled by enthusiasm for a black candidate, it’s likely that many conservative Democrats and yellow-dog Dixiecrats will choose the opposite candidate. The South does have some white liberals bastions in places like New Orleans and Nashville, but white, rural voters aren’t likely to support the Democratic nominee if he is being seen as carrying the banner for an African-American movement.
Of course, this because it’s a well-document phenomenon, but I think the West Virginia results (and Obama’s performance in Appalachian and Southern states throughout the primary process) has really reinforced it. Any boosted turnout in the African-American community is likely to be blunted by a loss of votes with rural whites. But at least the turnout will be high enough to make things interesting.
Buzz Jacobs, what’s your take? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this?.
Race in the South — The more purple means the more African-American.
Obama vs. Clinton Electoral Map — Obama is blue; Clinton is red.