Amid new reports that African Americans had a higher turnout percentage than their white counterparts in the 2012 general election, Nate Cohn writes that “Black Southern Voters, Poised to Play a Historic Role” at NYT’s the Upshot. Cohn explains:
Nearly five decades after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, black voters in the South are poised to play a pivotal role in this year’s midterm elections. If Democrats win the South and hold the Senate, they will do so because of Southern black voters.
The timing — 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act and 49 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act — is not entirely coincidental. The trends increasing the clout of black voters reflect a complete cycle of generational replacement in the post-Jim Crow era. White voters who came of age as loyal Democrats have largely died off, while the vast majority of black voters have been able to vote for their entire adult lives — and many have developed the habit of doing so.
Cohn then drops this:
This year’s closest contests include North Carolina, Louisiana and Georgia. Black voters will most likely represent more than half of all Democratic voters in Louisiana and Georgia, and nearly half in North Carolina. Arkansas, another state with a large black population, is also among the competitive states.
Cohn notes also that African American voters upset the tea party’s plans to replace Republican Sen. Thad Cochran with one of their own.
No pressure or anything, African American voters, but it’s kind of up to you to save America from descent into tea party madness. The African American vote has been pivotal for Democrats for a long time. But this year ups the ante, as Cohn projects,
… There has not been a year since Reconstruction when a party has depended so completely on black voters, in so many Southern states, in such a close national contest…If Democrats win this November, black voters will probably represent a larger share of the winning party’s supporters in important states than at any time since Reconstruction.
Such statistics also reflect the failure of too many white voters to vote in behalf of their own economic interests, and yes, the Democratic Party’s frustrating inability to effectively counter the GOP’s politics of distraction.
Getting down to cases, Cohn continues,
Nowhere has the remigration done more to improve Democratic chances than in Georgia, where Democrats have a chance to win an open Senate seat this November…The state’s growing black population will give her [Michelle Nunn] a chance to win with less than one-third of the white vote, a tally that would have ensured defeat for Democrats just a few years ago.
And the same resources Dems put into turning out African American voters in GA to elect Nunn senator could also elect Jason Carter governor. That would be an historic Democratic twofer — in a big way.