Black Mississippi Democrats Bamboozled by the GOP

thad cochranBCN editor’s note: please contact the author for reprint permission.

Who could ever believe that black Democrats could be led to vote for a Republican candidate in Mississippi?

Well, on Tuesday they did just that. Black Democrats in Mississippi were wound up in the Republican primary runoff election with robocalls that warned them not to vote for conservative state senator Chris McDaniel, six-term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran’s opponent, because he is a racist Tea Party candidate who opposes President Obama. You heard me correctly. Black Democrats jumped across party lines and voted in a Republican primary on the premise that a Republican candidate was racist. Whatever happened to the belief that ALL Republicans are racists and hate President Obama? I had no idea black Democrats could be that easily led around by their noses. (By the way, there was no credible evidence of racism in this race.)

The robocall said, “The time has come to make a stand and say ‘No!’ to the Tea Party, ‘No!’ to their obstruction, ‘No!’ to their disrespectful treatment of the first African-American president. Vote against Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel next Tuesday. Say ‘No!’ to the Tea Party.”

What is most notable is that the black voters were essentially tricked by this robocall, and Republican Cochran, who used the ‘tried and true’ Democrat strategy of race baiting. How naïve can these voters be? On the other ‘Right’ side of the coin, Cochran committed the cardinal sin of using false claims of racism to get votes, particularly in a state with such a history of racism.

Mississippi carries the stain of its Jim Crow (Southern Democrat-led) past and is believed to be the most racially polarized electorate in the country. Consequently, Mississippi blacks overwhelmingly vote Democratic, with only two percent participating in the 2012 Republican primary. To Cochran’s benefit, Mississippi allows anyone, regardless of party affiliation, to vote in its GOP primary, as long as they didn’t previously vote in that year’s Democratic primary. Cochran’s move to court the black vote in a primary runoff was unprecedented, and he beat McDaniel by 6,625 votes with most of the credit for the win given to the black Democrat voters.

Rev. Jesse Jackson said this week of the Cochran win, “Our voting determined the outcome. Our not voting determined the outcome.” And most would say Jackson is right. Unfortunately, Jackson and the Mississippi black voters don’t seem to know what or who to vote for.

1. The unemployment rate of blacks in Mississippi is 14.3%, more than two and a half times that of whites (5.4%), and has been at least twice the white rate (and at times triple the white rate) for much of the last five years.

2. Of the 24 states with large enough African American populations to track with unemployment data, Mississippi has the 9th highest African American unemployment rate.

3. Mississippi’s white unemployment rate has declined steadily, though slowly over the last 3 years to 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Mississippi’s white unemployment rate places it among the states with relatively low unemployment rates for white workers.

4. The black-white gap in unemployment rates in Mississippi is 2nd largest in the nation. Mississippi’s economy seems to be doing just fine for whites. Meanwhile, black Democrats don’t vote their own interest in Mississippi; they do as they are told. It seems to me that this demonstration of black electoral might should be turned toward voting for candidates who will reverse the economic conditions blacks face in the state. Unfortunately, as with many black Democrat voters, they make no connection between the candidates they elect and the impact those candidates have on their economic condition. Black support for President Obama’s re-election is a perfect example.

Undoubtedly, Mississippi blacks will vote against Cochran in the General Election and vote for his Democrat opponent Travis Childers. I can’t wait to hear the robocall Childers uses against Cochran. What goes around, will come back around.

Marc Little_2Marc Little is the author of The Prodigal Republican: Faith and Politics. His web site is The Prodigal Republican.

Photo credit: Jimmy Smith (Creative Commons) Some Rights Reserved

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One comment

  1. it is apparent that the writer of this article believes the readers are as gullible as he claims the voters were. first, this was a primary race so to suggest that they voted for the republican is at best disingenuous because there were only republicans running. they helped choose between bad and worse. second, mcdaniles’s alone is responsible for how he is portrayed regarding race because of his activities. if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and hangs out with ducks, it’s a duck.