There is nothing like the New York Times telling us about Mississippi. The newspaper pondered how Robert Gray became the Mississippi Democratic Party Gubernatorial nominee after trouncing the heavily favored Jackson attorney, Vicki Slater, in the August 4 primary:
Mr. Gray beat two other candidates, who unlike him spent money and campaigned. Democratic Party officials were stunned. The news media was stunned. Mr. Gray, now Mississippi’s Democratic nominee for governor, gave some interviews and then set off with a truck full of sweet potatoes for a potato chip factory in Pennsylvania.....Oh really? Mr. McGraw expounded on this point on the Rethink Mississippi website:
The Democratic primary was once the de facto general election in Mississippi. Even now, after decades of extensive partisan realignment, the majority of candidates running for coroner, tax assessor and other local offices in many rural counties are likely to be running as Democrats, out of tradition if nothing else. But people do not register by party in Mississippi, so while the Democratic primary may still draw the most activity in those counties, a large number of those primary voters are reliable Republicans in statewide and national elections.
“So much of the Democratic primary is composed of people who are not Democrats,” Mr. McGraw said.And that is how you end up with Mr. Gray, a genuine unknown even in the tiny town of Terry, where he lives. Rest of article.
The relative turnout figures suggest that most of the elasticity in the Democratic primary comes from loosely-attached Republicans and independents who cross over to vote in local races. While the effect of crossover voting is declining on a statewide level, it is still prevalent in many counties: the Democratic primary received at least 75 percent of the voters in 47 of Mississippi’s 82 counties. Of those 47 counties, only 20 voted for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2011.
Three-fifths of counties had more than a 25 percentage point gap between the Democratic share of the primary and general election vote. Those counties accounted for 68 percent of the total Democratic primary turnout in 2015 — but only 39 percent of the Democratic nominee’s votes in 2011.
The size of the dropoff between August and November can be staggering. Nearly 90 percent of Tippah County voters participated in the Democratic primary, but only 25 percent cast their ballot for the Democratic nominee in 2011. Ninety-two percent voted in Carroll County’s Democratic primary, but only 29 percent went blue in 2011. In total, 17 counties (21 percent) have at least a 50-point gap between Democratic share of the primary and general election vote.
Gray won an outright majority in 44 of the 50 counties (88 percent) in which the Democratic share of the primary vote was at least 25 percentage points greater than the 2011 general election vote share. He received 55 percent of the total vote in these high-crossover counties. They accounted for 71 percent of his primary votes, but — as I mentioned in the previous section — only 39 percent of the Democratic general election votes.
Gray only carried a majority in 10 of the 32 counties (30 percent) where turnout was more proportional. He won 39 percent of the total vote in these low-crossover counties, which produced the remaining 61 percent of the Democrats’ 2011 general election votes.. Rest of article.
It;s a niice little opinion piece filled with some facts. JJ took a look at some actual numbers (long-time readers know what is coming) at the precinct level in Hinds County. Over 31,000 votes were cast in the Democratic primary for governor. Republican votes decreased approximately 5,000 votes from the 2011 primary as the elephants crossed over to vote for the donkeys. The results were:
Robert Gray. . . . . . . . . . 10,067 31.63 Valerie Adream Smartt Short . . . . 7,629 23.97 Vicki Slater . . . . . . . . . 13,996 43.97
JJ reviewed the precinct results. The Hinds County precinct results are the opposite of the thesis posited by Rethink Mississippi and the New York Times. It is quite clear that the vast majority of Republicans who voted in the Democratic primary case their ballots for Vicki Slater. The results by precinct are posted below.
All Democratic precincts that are in Republican areas of Hinds County went for Vicki Slater. They are the only areas. The whiter and more Republican the area, the higher the percentage of votes received by Ms. Slater. Mr. Gray did not win any boxes in GOP areas. Here are the results for all of the boxes in Republican areas in Jackson:
Christ United Methodist is probably 40% black. All precinct results are posted below for your review. Here are some additional observations:
*No other Hinds County precincts showed such overwhelming majority votes for one candidate. The highest was 53% and the lowest was 38% for the winner.
*Slater won over 50% of the vote in four more areas, Clinton and Tinnin, that are Republican areas.
*Only 6 precincts in areas that are considered to be Democratic gave over 50% of their votes to the winner. Vicki Slater won every one of those boxes. Three of those boxes still have a substantial number of white or Republican votes.
*Short hurt Slater more than Gray. Slater won the vast majority of precincts. However, Slater's margin of victory in traditional Democratic areas was usually very small and almost always under 50% and sometimes even below 40%.
*The truth is that Vicki Slater performed poorly in the black precincts of Hinds County. The whiter the precinct, the better she did; the blacker the precinct, the worse she did. Somehow, this bit of info does not appear on Rethink Mississippi's website.
*Mr. Gray probably wins Hinds County if Republicans don't vote in the Democratic primary.
Hinds County's results are at odds with the claims made by Mr. McGraw and the New York Times. However, this is just one county and Mr. McGraw's argument probably holds water when one looks at all 82 counties. However, a more in-depth analysis is needed and that means looking at precincts themselves. Vicki Slater may have had a Republican problem but it is clear in Hinds County that she had a race problem.
Notes about table below: winning number of votes is posted in red. Majority % over 50% is posted in blue. Democratic boxes in GOP areas are posted first.
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