Democrats’ wins come with a warning indication: African American voters

Democrats’ wins come with a warning indication: African American voters

Democrats are riding high after unseating GOP Gov. Matt Bevin in Kentucky and recovering majorities in both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly in Tuesday’s elections. Much as held true in 2018, when Democrats took back the bulk in your house, Democrats’ gains were concentrated in mainly white, middle-to-upper income residential areas.

In Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear took advantage of Bevin’s unpopularity to win a state President Donald Trump had brought by 30 points, and the most remarkable erosion in Bevin’s support took place in the northern Kentucky suburbs. For example, in 2015, Bevin brought Kenton County, just outside Cincinnati, by 18 points. On Tuesday, he lost it by a point.

In Virginia, Democrats wrested control of the state Senate by turning one seat each in the fast-changing, highly expert Northern Virginia and Richmond suburbs. They likewise won control of your house of Delegates for the very first time since 1997 by catching two seats in Northern Virginia– and at least three more seats in the Tidewater location that had actually been redrawn after courts ruled the previous GOP-drawn map was a racial gerrymander.

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Nevertheless, the results weren’t as sparkling for Democrats in Mississippi, the least white state at stake in Tuesday’s significant contests. Plain and easy, African American turnout there was weaker than anticipated– and that must work as a cautioning to Democrats elsewhere.

It wasn’t stunning that Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves defeated Democratic Chief law officer Jim Hood by 6 points for Mississippi’s leading job. However it was surprising that turnout in the Magnolia State’s first competitive gubernatorial race since 2003 was so low. In Kentucky, turnout– as determined by overall votes cast– rose a huge 51 percent over 2015’s heated race, however in Mississippi it increased just 20 percent over 2015’s uncompetitive contest.

In fact, turnout in Mississippi was down from last November’s unique Senate election, when GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith beat Democrat Mike Espy 54 percent to 46 percent. The reason? Hood, a conservative white Democrat who had long worked as the state’s lawyer general, stopped working to mobilize Mississippi’s black voters to the very same extent as Espy, who is African American and had actually represented the Mississippi Delta in Congress in the 1990 s.

In Mississippi counties where white locals outnumber African Americans, 2019 turnout was down just 3 percent versus last fall and Hood took 39 percent, up from Espy’s 37 percent. However in Mississippi counties where African American homeowners surpass whites, 2019 turnout was down 8 percent and Hood took just 68 percent, down from Espy’s 69 percent. In Jackson’s Hinds County, the biggest in the state, turnout was down 11 percent.

In the immediate future, this ought to be a major caution flag for Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, another conservative white Democrat who faces a tight Nov. 16 runoff versus Republican Eddie Rispone for a second term. One reason Edwards took simply 47 percent of the vote in the preliminary ballot round on Oct. 12– shy of the bulk needed to avoid an overflow– was that the African American share of the electorate dragged2015’s share.

More broadly, increasing African American voting interest in the post-Obama era is also central to Democrats’ possibilities of beating Trump in2020 After all, of the 6 states set to choose the 2020 election– Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin– black citizens are a robust share of the electorate in all but Arizona. Their engagement is important to any Democratic course to triumph in the Electoral College.

David Wasserman

David Wasserman, Home editor for The Cook Political Report, is an NBC News contributor and senior expert with the NBC Election Unit.

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