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The View from Jackson | The Nation

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The View from Jackson

I could analyze Senator Barack Obama's Mississippi win all day--and wouldn't that be a kick? But I wouldn't be able to do nearly as provocative a job as Donna Ladd, editor of the hell-raising Jackson Free Press, and her election-night blogmates.

The post-primary story from the pundisphere was all about the stark racial disparity in the vote, and it was stark indeed, with exit polls showing 91 percent of African Americans going for Obama and 72 percent of whites for Senator Hillary Clinton. But there were other ways to read the Mississippi results, as the Free Press blog points out. For one thing, the strong white vote for Clinton was skewed, as Ladd points out, by Republicans turning out to vote for the New York Senator; 13 percent of the primary voters identified as GOPers, and nearly 80 percent of them went for Clinton. And while older people voted for Clinton, the future looks interesting for Mississippi Democrats; 72 percent of voters under 30 went for Obama, considerably more than the 60 percent overall.

Choice observations from the Magnolia State's progressive universe:

Ladd: "The race really split along racial lines here, showing that even Democrats are predictable on that front in our state.

 Of course, Obama clearly drew a lot more votes, so the 10 percent of his vote that was white might be an impressive number.

 Also, I'd like to know how many people voting who haven't been voting. There are a lot of variables here---and if turnout of progressives, young people and non-whites increases due to his candidacy, that's a huge deal and could change Mississippi's election outcomes, as Obama himself has pointed out:



"Back in August, Obama told the AP that he's the 'only candidate who, having won the nomination, can actually redraw the political map.' The reason? Black voters. 'I guarantee you African-American turnout, if I'm the nominee, goes up 30 percent around the country, minimum,' he said. 'So we're in a position to put states in play that haven't been in play since LBJ.' The state at the heart of Obama's prediction was Mississippi. At the time, Obama said that 'if we just got African-Americans in Mississippi to vote their percentage of the population, Mississippi is suddenly a Democratic state'; in November he told the Washington Post that he 'think[s] [he] can put Mississippi in play.'

"It's the turnout numbers that matter here. [According to early reports, turnout was "mixed" across Mississippi.] Also, the Newsweek blog didn't take into account that McCain could draw a lackluster white vote, although [Republican Governor Haley] Barbour has ensured that [Senator Trent] Lott's seat will be on the November ballot, so that will likely help the conservative turnout, despite McCain."

Ladd: "CNN just said [Obama] has a white-male problem in Mississippi.

 Doh. 

I wish they would publish an actual number of how many white men vote Democratic here typically, without a black man on the ticket. 

Obviously, with due respect, he wasn't going to draw a huge white male vote here. The vast majority of them will vote Republican if they vote.

 The story *should* be the black turnout and excitement."

Pikersam: "BTW: We are really going to see how ruthless the Clinton camp can be now that she is one the ropes and about to go down for the count.

 She is banking on the false votes of MI and FL to win which will disenfranchise the rest of the democratic voters across the US."

Ladd: "Their analysis [on CNN] drives me crazy, with Soledad talking about Obama's white-male problem. 

Folks, Hillary's voters are going to vote for Obama if he gets the nomination. The rest of the white boyz are going to vote Republican. What matters is how many non-typical voters, of all races, might be added to the mix because they are excited by Obama?

 How hard can this be?"

Ladd: "Also, the exit polls make it look like Rush's plea for white Republicans to vote for Hillary may have worked some here. That helps in a couple ways: It helps give the nomination to Hillary, who will not excite as many new voters as Obama, and is more partisan and divisive, helping McCain in November. It also means that pundits like Soledad start talking about Obama's white-male problem. Clinton's got one, too, if not as much among diehard Democrats." (Ladd)

Golden Eagle '97: "I'm watching the returns on WAPT...Alan Keyes was on the ballot in MS?"

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