The latest controversy about the Senate race, and there will undoubtedly be more, is large turnout of black voters for (presumably) Thad Cochran last Tuesday. Many accused the Barbours and others of using dirty politics to get blacks who never vote Republican to vote in the Republican runoff. However, one black politician I respect sent me this email yesterday that stated a different view:
Everyone knows what happened last night to favor TC victory.
Media are gushing about it- but they are giving Haley and other R savants the credit for engineering the black turnout. Haley could not turn out the black vote cross-over vote for himself.
AA community viewed the McDaniel ads and simply made a decision that his election was not in their best interests. It took some direction by the AA leadership but that was self generated.
The Tea Party announcement to commit "poll watchers" to monitor Democratic crossover incensed the black community. If it had not rained, the TC victory would have been even higher. Having to produce ID was one blow, but then Tea Party monitors... too much of an offensive throwback.
Those were his comments. Now for mine. The McDaniel team made a huge strategic and tactical error in announcing they were sending poll watchers to blanket the majority-black precincts. Its one thing to use poll watchers to stop election day shenanigans. That is just good tough politics. However, it is a different matter to announce you are doing so and then just doing it in the black precincts. I've covered enough black politics and know enough black politicians to where I can comfortably say that announcing that poll watchers are going just to the black precincts is almost a declaration of war against the black community and that is exactly how they see it. What happens next is no surprise: the black voters get motivated and vote. The New York Times reported Sunday:
Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars backing Mr. Cochran’s Tea Party opponent, State Senator Chris McDaniel, said in an interview on Sunday that his group was joining with Freedom Works and the Tea Party Patriots in a “voter integrity project” in Mississippi.The very first thought I had when I heard about it last weekend was the McDaniel campaign was making a suicidal blunder. Something similar happened in the 2010 Longwitz/Ratcliffe county court race in Madison County. Madison County Sheriff Toby Trowbridge endorsed Will Longwitz. Good news, right? It certainly helped Mr. Longwitz in Ridgeland and Madison. However, the Ratcliffe campaign took those same Trowbridge mailers and used them in northern Madison County.... where most voters are black. They didn't like the Sheriff and his roadblocks. The message was simple: The Sheriff wants to elect a judge who will put you under the jail after the Sheriff throws you in jail. Needless to say, the black voters turned out to vote against Longwitz and handed the election to Ratcliffe. A lesson in what not to do during a campaign. However, its hard to blame the McDaniel team when no one on that team probably understood racial politics in Mississippi.
The groups will deploy observers in areas where Mr. Cochran is recruiting Democrats, Mr. Cuccinelli said. J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department official and conservative commentator who said he was advising the effort, described the watchers as “election observers,” mostly Mississippi residents, who will be trained to “observe whether the law is being followed.”...
“The laws in Mississippi are unusually open to poll watching from the outside,” said Mr. Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general. “We’re going to take full advantage of that and we’re going to lay eyes on Cochran’s effort to bring Democrats in,” he added. “And of course, if they voted in primaries, that’s illegal.”....
Many are blaming the Barbours and the black preachers. Time to be honest. There is a little group of black preachers in Hinds County who um, lets just say get very active in election day politics and might even do it for a fee. Every time there is a local election, there is a race among black candidates to see who can get to "the preachers". One reason the church should stay out of politics. It won't surprise me to learn that some of these preachers followed their usual practice as leopards don't change spots.
Then there is the use of anonymous flyers and mailers. A tactic very familiar to those living in Jackson, Hinds County, and other majority-black areas. John Fun published this flyer yesterday in National Review:
Standard practice in the black community. Tea Party is the code word for Klan on black talk radio and in other similar forums just as many whites in Mississippi refer to blacks as "Democrats". The Patterico website spent more time on this matter as it compared this flyer to other mailers. Its worth reading. Hmmmm.... was Greg Brand involved? Its no surprise to some as we are getting used to these flyers in Hinds County. Remember this classic from last fall?
This is how the black community views the Tea Party and the Tea Party played right into it. It just took some inflaming to gin up Black votes for Cochran. Whether it was the Barbours, Black Preachers, Brand, Bennie, or others will be the subject of much debate for some time. Maybe the McDaniel camp should call them the Killer B's: Black preachers, black voters, Bennie, Brand, and Barbours. Has a ring to it. Combine the poll-watching announcements with an already aggressive get out the vote campaign in the black community and Senator Thad Cochran got the black votes he needed to win Tuesday.