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Doug Jones’ Challenge

Via WaPo:  ‘Doug Jones’s problem’: African American voters not energized by Alabama’s Senate race.

Jones’s campaign believes he can win only if he pieces together an unusually delicate coalition built on intense support from core Democrats and some crossover votes from Republicans disgusted with Moore. Crucial to that formula is a massive mobilization of African Americans, who make up about a quarter of Alabama’s electorate and tend to vote heavily Democratic.

The basic issue, as is generally that case and is especially true of special elections) is turnout.

The article itself outlines the basic problem, although despite the definitive headline, the piece itself is based largely on anecdotal evidence.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Not the IT Dept. says:

    You could copy-and-paste a portion of the article for those of us not subscribers who are blocked by a paywall. Doug does it all the time. You’re not assigning homework, you know.

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  2. @Not the IT Dept.: If you want to read a WaPo piece just open it in a private or icognito window.

    Homework solved.

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  3. James Pearce says:

    The article itself outlines the basic problem, although despite the definitive headline, the piece itself is based largely on anecdotal evidence.

    Sure, but if you want hard data, just look at election results.

    And this:

    “Right now, many African Americans do not know there is an election on December 12,” said state Sen. Hank Sanders (D), who is black and supports Jones.

    Defies credibility. I would bet that many African Americans, who are not nearly as ignorant or powerless as white people often think, do know there’s an election on Dec 12th; they’re just not that interested in it, considering it’s a contest between white dudes, neither of whom are going to do a damn thing for them.

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  4. An Interested Party says:

    Defies credibility. I would bet that many African Americans, who are not nearly as ignorant or powerless as white people often think…

    The statement that supposedly defies credibility was made by a black man…perhaps he’s secretly white…

    …considering it’s a contest between white dudes, neither of whom are going to do a damn thing for them.

    Oh, so black people can’t think on a more complex level, realizing that another Democrat in the Senate can do more to help them, or at least not hurt them, as much as another Republican would? Ironic that you would make the statement about black people not being as ignorant as white people think…

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  5. Franklin says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I was not aware of that workaround, thanks. I’m not at the limit yet (today, or this month, or whatever it is) so I’ll have to test it later.

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  6. James Pearce says:

    @An Interested Party:

    The statement that supposedly defies credibility was made by a black man

    Yeah, so? You think I didn’t read that part of the sentence?

    The only reason Hank Sanders went with “My people are too stupid to know about this election that’s been in the national news* for weeks” is because he knows a lot of white people, liberals included, really do think black people are that stupid.

    I don’t.

    I do not, for one second, believe that black people are unaware of this election. I think they are all too aware of it and are, in fact, unmotivated to vote for a white candidate. I know the implications of that are uncomfortable. But they’re going to have to be confronted if we want to move forward.

    * And most likely dominating local news too.

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  7. An Interested Party says:

    The only reason Hank Sanders went with “My people are too stupid to know about this election that’s been in the national news* for weeks” is because he knows a lot of white people, liberals included, really do think black people are that stupid.

    Oh, so he is either a liar or a coddler of white people…it’s nice that you know him so well…

    But they’re going to have to be confronted if we want to move forward.

    Well hell, you’ve already appointed yourself to tell liberals what they should and shouldn’t do, why not just extend that role to black people (those who aren’t liberals covered under your first appointment) too…

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  8. James Pearce says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Oh, so he is either a liar or a coddler of white people

    Suppose he’s right then. That Alabama’s African Americans are so politically disengaged that they have no clue that one of their senators left for the Justice Department and was going to be replaced in a special election that has been BIG NEWS (nationally) for months now. That doesn’t strike me as a) very plausible or b) comforting.

    Also:

    you’ve already appointed yourself to tell liberals what they should and shouldn’t do

    It shouldn’t annoy you that I have opinions or that they’re different from yours.

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  9. I think that in general, the overall population is less focused on elections, especially special elections, than one might think.

    Further, the population that only pays partial attention is more likely to not be fully tuned in to an unusual election date, like Dec 12.

    And, perhaps most important of all, since we as a country vote on Tuesdays (a work day), a lot of people (especially hourly wage/lower income citizens) don’t vote. And, hence, pay less attention.

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  10. An Interested Party says:

    It shouldn’t annoy you that I have opinions or that they’re different from yours.

    Let me put your mind at ease, I’m more amused than annoyed, particularly by the fact that you don’t see elections as Steven noted above…

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  11. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    the overall population is less focused on elections

    Does this apply to Moore supporters too? I have a feeling they won’t find it so difficult to vote on a Tuesday in December.

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  12. @James Pearce: Ultimately, I don’t expect turnout to be especially high, so yes. Note that even “high” turnout in the US is 60ish% (and that is for competitive presidential contests, not special elections).

    It is further the case the white middle and upper middle class voters typically have the luxury of missing some time to vote without any penalty at work, and they likely have no transportation problems.

    For some of Moore’s white working class voters, work and transportation difficulties certainly exist.

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  13. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Ultimately, I don’t expect turnout to be especially high, so yes.

    Even if you assume turn-out to be lower than normal (and normal is pretty low), Moore’s supporters seem to be more enthusiastic about putting him into office, molestation accusations and all, than Democratic constituencies are about Jones.

    I hinted at it in a previous comment, but Democrats will never win in the south until they come to appreciate that African American voters don’t want to vote for white saviors. In the short term, we’ll need black candidates.

    In the long term, we’ll need to reorient society back towards racial integration and stop this annoying and destructive slide into segregation, this time voluntarily chosen and enforced not by law, but rigid social convention.

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  14. @James Pearce:

    Moore’s supporters seem to be more enthusiastic about putting him into office, molestation accusations and all, than Democratic constituencies are about Jones

    This likely true. Moore’s supporters are pretty strongly behind him. And, hence, turnout matters. I think you are missing how that works.

    we’ll need to reorient society back towards racial integration and stop this annoying and destructive slide into segregation, this time voluntarily chosen and enforced not by law, but rigid social convention.

    Sadly, the issue is not “back” toward racial integration, because we have never really had it.

    And you need to ask yourself why it is that the GOP is fairly homogeneous while the Democrats are more mixed.

    I say this because you come across as acting as if the blame for this should be equally shared by all.

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  15. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Sadly, the issue is not “back” toward racial integration, because we have never really had it.

    No, we didn’t but that was the dream. “One day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.”

    Contrast that with Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “We Were in Power Eight Years” when you know the “we” doesn’t refer to Democrats.

    The end for MLK was clear: “Free at last.” I fear that the modern iteration of that is “Free from you.” That does not strike me as an improvement.

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