Sunday, November 25, 2018


Jonathan Martin of The New York Times has a word of warning for Democrats:
Across South, Democrats Who Speak Boldly Risk Alienating Rural White Voters

JACKSON, Miss. — When Mike Espy, the Democrat challenging Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, faced his opponent at a debate ahead of this Tuesday’s runoff election, he had to make a choice: confront Ms. Hyde-Smith over her comments about attending “a public hanging,” which evoked the state’s racist history, or take a milder approach to avoid alienating the conservative-leaning white voters who will most likely decide the election.

He chose the latter....

In a state where politics has long been cleaved by race, Mr. Espy was reckoning with a conundrum that Democrats face across the South.... Even as they made gains in the 2018 elections in the suburbs that were once Republican pillars, Democrats are seeing their already weak standing in rural America erode even further.

Now, as Democrats mount a last-minute and decidedly against-the-odds campaign to snatch a Senate seat in this most unlikely of states, they are facing the same problem that undermined some of their most-heralded candidates earlier this month.
Whose campaign was "undermined" by this "problem"?
The campaigns of Stacey Abrams in Georgia, Andrew Gillum in Florida and Beto O’Rourke in Texas may have electrified black and progressive white voters — just as Ms. Hyde-Smith’s comments may energize Mississippians to support Mr. Espy — but they had an equal and opposite effect as well: in rural county after rural county, this trio of next-generation Democrats performed worse than President Barack Obama did in 2012.
But they didn't have "an equal and opposite effect" in comparison with at least two of the candidates' immediate predecessors. The last Democrat to run against Ted Cruz lost by 16 points. Beto O'Rourke lost by 1.6 and helped carry several downballot Democrats to victory. The last Democrat to run for governor in Georgia lost by 8 points. Stacey Abrams lost by less than half a point. Only Andrew Gillum failed to improve significantly on his predecessor's results (That predecessor and the Democrat before him both lost, however.)

O'Rourke, Abrams, and Gillum were all unabashedly progressive on the subject of race. Martin says Democrats talk that way at their peril -- but the he writes:
More ominous for Democrats was that the deep losses this year among rural and some exurban whites were not just confined to Southern states where they nominated unabashed progressives with hopes of transforming the midterm electorate. They lost four Senate seats, as well as governor’s races in states like Iowa and Ohio, with more conventional candidates whose strength in cities and upper-income suburbs was not enough to overcome their deficits in less densely populated areas.
(Emphasis added.)

So candidates who didn't raise these issues lost, which proves that ... Democrats shouldn't raise these issues?

Espy's moderation notwithstanding, race is now an issue in the Mississippi Senate runoff. Let's see: The runoff happened because neither Hyde-Smith nor Espy got 50% of the vote in the first round. Hyde-Smith beat Espy by just under a percentage point, 41.5% to 40.6%, but another Republican, Chris McDaniel, was in the race. He got 16.5% of the vote. It was assumed that Hyde-Smith would get nearly all of his vote in the runoff, which would mean she'd win handily -- add her votes to McDaniel's and you get 58%.

So this should have been a blowout for the GOP. But now news reports have made Hyde-Smith's racial attitudes an issue in the contest. That should push her over 60%, right, according to Martin?

Um, no:
... Ms. Hyde-Smith and her advisers have been torn over how to explain her comments about attending a public hanging.

They were divided on how to respond, according to Republicans familiar with the deliberations, but after internal G.O.P. polling indicated that her lead had eroded, it became clear she had to offer some measure of regret.
(Emphasis added again.)

The hanging remark isn't Hyde-Smith's only racial problem though you'd never know that from reading Martin's story. In addition, there's the pro-Confederate resolution she sponsored and the segregation academy she attended (and the other segregation academy to which she sent her daughter). I could go on.

Republicans clearly think she could lose:

The president will hold a campaign rally for her tomorrow night.

Why is this even necessary, Jonathan, if race talk is so damaging to Democrats?

No comments: