Well, Fitzmas is past. Miers is history. Bush’s next SCOTUS pick won’t be known til next week. For the first time in ages, I don’t have a big day-job or moonlighting weekend project. My wife’s out of town on business. My kid’s away at college. Fall has finally arrived. The day is cool, crisp and windy, what I used to think of in my student days as Nietzsche Weather, when you want to go find an abyss to laugh over.In sum, it is, as Chris Schenkel used to always say, a Fine Day for Football. So in a few hours, I’ll try to find something red and black to wear, and mosey over to the local sports bar to watch the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, Georgia versus Florida. Now to yankees and other outsiders, this rivalry probably sounds like the Bud Bowl or something–a drinking contest between two party schools.But it’s a serious thing down there, made more vicious, oddly enough, by the rivalry’s recent pattern of total domination by one team or the other.Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Georgia routinely won, often coming from behind to rout the Gators in the second half. At one point in early 80s, I watched the game with a work colleague who had gone to Florida. As the third quarter ended, Florida had a small lead, but Georgia had begun one of those soul-crushing long ball-control drives that were the hallmark of the Vince Dooley era, and my friend got up and turned off the television. “Don’t you want to watch the fourth quarter?” I asked. “I’ve been watching this fourth quarter for fifteen years,” he wearily replied. Sure enough, Georgia won. In the 90s, with the return to Gainesville of The Evil Genius (a.k.a., the Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier), Florida dominated the series, especially during the tenure in Athens of Spurrier’s polar opposite, the honorable but less-than-cerebral good-ol-boy Ray Goff (“If Georgia had to hire a Danny-Ford-type coach, they should have hired Danny Ford,” quoth one Dawg Fanatic friend of mine). With both universities beginning to establish themselves as regional academic powers, the intellectual gap on the football field was painful for Georgia fans.Now both teams have Genius coaches. Georgia is undefeated, but its quarterback and moral leader, D.J. Shockley, will miss the game with a sprained knee. If Georgia wins, the post-game assessments will write themselves, because Shockley’s replacement is a third-generation Dawg named Joe Tereshinski III, whose major role in his two previous years in Athens was as long snapper on punts. Either way, it ought to be fun. For once, Georgia is playing in the day’s marquee game. I won’t have to beg Mike the Bartender to find an obscure screen on which to watch my team. I can make barking noises on kickoffs without pretending to undergo a coughing fit. Yes, it’s a fine day for football.
TDS Strategy Memos
Latest Research from:
By Ed Kilgore
Sifting through more data from the 2022 midterms, there was one indicator that surprised and concerned me, so I wrote about it at New York:
As analysts pick over the results of the 2022 midterm elections, there have been a lot of mixed messages for Democrats. Yes, they performed better than you might have expected for the party controlling the White House, especially considering the president has underwater job-approval ratings. And yes, Democrats benefited from an unusually robust performance among young voters, who often don’t participate in midterm elections. But at the same time, Democrats didn’t significantly improve their performance among other key demographics, notably Black, Asian American, and Latino voters. As my colleague Eric Levitz observed, Democrats remain dangerously dependent on white college-educated voters who remain sympathetic to Republican economic messages.
Worse yet for Democrats, there is growing evidence that their single most loyal demographic group, African Americans, was underenthused in 2022. The New York Times’ Nate Cohn looked at the preliminary numbers and sounded the alarm:
“Georgia and North Carolina are two of the states where voters indicate their race when they register to vote, offering an unusually clear look at the racial composition of the electorate. In both states — along with Louisiana — the Black share of the electorate fell to its lowest levels since 2006.
“In all three states, the turnout rate among Black voters was far lower than among white voters. In North Carolina, for example, 43 percent of Black registered voters turned out, compared with 59 percent of white registered voters — roughly doubling the difference from 2018 and tripling the racial turnout gap from 2014.
“While similarly conclusive data is not available elsewhere so far, the turnout by county suggests that a relatively weak Black turnout was a national phenomenon.”
Low Black turnout in Georgia and North Carolina is especially significant because Black candidates (Senate candidate Cheri Beasley in North Carolina and Senate Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock and gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in Georgia) headed up the Democratic tickets in both states. It’s not like the old days when Black voters were being urged to support white conservative Democrats to thwart even more conservative Republicans.
If the signs of relatively low Black turnout in 2022 are accurate and representative, what do they mean? Cohn offers some possible explanations:
“Still, relatively low Black turnout is becoming an unmistakable trend in the post-Obama era, raising important — if yet unanswered — questions about how Democrats can revitalize the enthusiasm of their strongest group of supporters.
“Is it simply a return to the pre-Obama norm? Is it yet another symptom of eroding Democratic strength among working-class voters of all races and ethnicities? Or is it a byproduct of something more specific to Black voters, like the rise of a more progressive, activist — and pessimistic — Black left that doubts whether the Democratic Party can combat white supremacy?”
It’s possible to overinterpret Black voter trends. According to exit polls, the Democratic share of Black voters dropped from 90 percent in 2018 to 87 percent in 2020 and 86 percent in 2022 — not exactly a deep plunge. And some of the negative turnout trends may be attributable to voter-suppression efforts in Republican-controlled states rather than Black voter disaffection with Democrats. In Georgia, moreover, there are encouraging signs about Black early voting turnout in the U.S. Senate general election runoff contest between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker.
But any way you cut it, Democrats have both a practical and a moral responsibility to boost Black voter participation in elections going forward. In particular, President Joe Biden, whose nomination and election in 2020 depended heavily on Black support, should devote a lot of attention to rekindling the fires of affection in this critical segment of the electorate.