IN MISSISSIPPI, A GAME-CHANGING NOMINATION

Image

^ nominated to a 7th term, with major black voter support : Mississippi’s Thad Cochran

—- —- —–

Last night, voters in Mississippi made history. By re-nominating Senator Thad Cochran to a seventh term, in the manner and with the voters that they did it, Mississippians who voted in the Republican primary gave their Senator an entirely new coalition as well as the chance for a new term.

In the article linked below, the Washington Post’s Chris Cilizza expresses amazement that Cochran was able to bring to his side at lest 10,000 Back voters. Amazing it was; but Cilizza doesn’t mention the bigger point : Cochran now becomes the only GOP senator in the entire nation ti owe his GOP nomination significantly to Black voters. this is as big a deal as it gets.

Link to Chris Cilizza’s Washington Post column here :¬†http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/06/24/how-thad-cochran-won/

For almost 50 years now, and increasingly, the GOP has gotten along without important Black support. T>he party that was of Abe Lincoln, that was the home of civil rights and Black advancement — and remained significantly that right into the Richard Nixon years — has become the party almost entirely of Caucasian voters. Almost no Blacks shape its policies, its platform, its language. Almost no Black voters vote for its candidates. and thus the GOP of the last 50 years has behaved like a man with only one arm, or one leg ; doing only half the job a major political party is supposed to do; and this at a time when the other major political party, the Democrats, became the party of pretty nearly everybody.

The GOP of the last 50 years had no choice but to act by half only. As black voters left it, what remained to the GOP was what the party had to lead. A party has no choice but to begin by voicing what its core voters want. That’s how the ;party’s nominees for office are chosen. Voters who don’t participate in the choosing do nor enter that conversation.

It was that GOP, the GOP laid waste to by Thad Cochran’s victory, in which the Tuesday loser, Chris McDaniel, represented so negatively. He deserved to lose: and with the giant effort made by Cochran’s team, he did lose.

Image

^ gone for now and probably for a long time ; the politics of White voters only.

In Mississippi now, all of that has changed. How big was Black participation in yesterday;s win by Cochran over his tea Party challenger ? As Cilizza notes, voting in the 24 Mississippi counties whose vote is 50 percent Black or more rose by a full 4o percent; where in the state’;s other counties it rose only by 16 percent. The extra 7500 votes picked up by Cochran from Black Mississippians more than equalled his margin of victory.

Nearly all the Black Mississippians who assured Cochran’s victory are Democrats and will likely remain so. But for Cochran, they now have a stake in his success, and he in their participation. Big results are likely to follow. First, Cochran is likely now to become the first GOP Senator to vote for a new Voting rights act. Second, Cochran is likely to pursue the education funding, job training programs, and housing support that his Black core of supporters want. third, other GOP candidates in Mississippi are likely now to seek out the votes of those who gave Cochran his nomination : if only because if they don’t, their GOP opponents will.

Even bigger consequences may well follow. Black voters in other deeply red states may decide that they, too, need participate in a GOP primary in the states that allow open primary voting). After all, what to do ? Be let out entirely of the decision, or become the big decider ? And thus the national GOP faces huge change : because no group has a greater ability to impact a GOP nomination than Black voters, almost entirely out of the party’s loop for so long.

It was always going to be in the South — the deep South especially — that this revolution had to occur if at all. The GOP has become such a party of the South that whatever changes it there changes its direction generally; and Black voters of the deep South have the greatest numbers to bear upon the GOP. Cochran’s victory may not be replicated in other states; nothing is inevitable in politics. But the potential is there. the GOP stands at the edge of a huge revolution, which, if it happens, will utterly change — and all for the better — the entire nation’s policy future.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

ANNALS OF THE GOP : THE SOUTH IS SHIFTING

Image

^ sparking the change that threatens the GOP South : Michelle Nunn of Georgia

—- —- —-

Recent polls of US Senate races in Georgia and Kentucky show that the Democrats stand a fair chance of picking up both seats. In Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell polls a mere 1 point ahead of his challenger, Alson Lundergan Grimes. In Georgia, Michelle Nunn no polls ahead — by 3 to 6 points — of each of her two possible Republican rivals for the open seat left by retiring Saxby Chambliss.

This is significant change. Granted that it’s only two Southern states and that in two others — Louisiana and North Carolina — Democratic incumbents poll behind or barely ahead of Republican challengers; yet another Southern Democratic incumbent, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, thought to be in trouble, now looks comfortably ahead of his Republican opponent.

Six, ten, twelve years ago, these races would not have been close. Each of the 5 states mentioned were then trending strongly to the GOP, and as recently as the 2012 Presidential election, three of them (LA, KY, AR) continued to be so. But not now. Anecdotal evidence suggests, too, that throughout the South the GOP message is wearing out its welcome.

So what is going on, as I see it ? Many factors :

1.the old Southern voters of 1968 – 2012 are aging, and the South’s younger voters — growing in number — have a very different view of things. In the South, absolutes have tended to rule. Good versus bad has been the region’s norm for a long long time, be it racism, religious fundamentalism, or absolutism on gun rights. This is the picture we from outside the South have of the region : and this picture has carried the day in Southern politics ever since the Civil rights revolution of the early 1960s.

But that was then. Today’s Southern voters have grown up in the internet era, friends to technology, confronted with all kinds of activities and styles utterly subversive of the steely absolutes that have riled Southern politics. as always, the people are ahead of the politicians. Southern people have made their peace with gay family members, neighbors, friends. Transgender kids are accommodated in the South’s schools. Race is barely a factor at all. And religion, strong as ever in this region, has begun to change its message from damnation to inclusion.

So far this is happening at street level. No Southern politician — certainly no Southern Republican — would dare to be the public voice of the South’s growing diversity. But the voters know the difference. For 40 years, the Democratic party in the South was the party of Blacks (and a few fighting progressives, always present in the South even in the worst of seasons). No longer. This year Democratic candidates are gaining White voters in numbers not often seen in our lifetime. Women voters especially are moving.

This trend can only grow. If the South’s GOP doesn’t change its tune, and fast, it will find itself losing races more often than not. And if Hillary Clinton runs for President in 2016, watch out.

2.the South is no longer uniformly Black or Caucasian and of multi-generation American birth.

Hispanic people are moving up from Florida into Georgia, Alabama, even South Carolina — a trend first noted as long ago as 2004. They’re a presence in Mississippi and Louisiana. They’re at least 40 % of Texas population. Their numbers can only increase. And they are, on balance, heavily Democratic in their voting choice.

3.City voters almost everywhere in America are democratic, usually by overwhelming margins. it’s true of the South, too. In the technology innovation era that we now inhabit, the young techies live in center city. they live there, shop there, socialize there, work there. Southern cities can no more opt out of this social dynamic than they can rewind the clock. And these voters, too, overwhelmingly vote Democratic.

In Georgia, the votes of greater Atlanta, Athens University of Georgia), Savannah, and Augusta, added to Hispanic votes in south Georgia and black votes in the Cotton belt look ready to claim a majority, and not only in the senate race.

In North Carolina, serious overreach by a radical Republican legislature may well spell doom for the state’s GOP candidate for US Senate and almost certainly portends a Democratic victory in the state in 2016.

In Mississippi, in 2012, Barack Obama lost the state by only 10 points — much less than he lost all surrounding states by. Yes, Mississippi voters are 37% Black. But Obama got 45%. He won 15% of the White vote in the South’s most racially polarized state. White Democrats are running for US Senate and for Congress, in numbers not seen in Mississippi in two decades. Will they win ? probably not. But no longer can the GOP take Mississippi for granted.

In Arkansas, the Clintons remain hugely popular, and their popularity, plus the prospect of Hillary Clinton as President, seems to have yanked the state back, from assured¬†20 to 30 point GOP victories, toward 50-50 status. Tom Cotton, the GOP Congressman running against senator Pryor, must wonder what’s happening. Only four years ago, Arkansas voters defeated a Democratic Senate incumbent by 20 points. Now Cotton finds Pryor polling ahead by 6 to 10 points.

What’s happening is that the South is changing — rapidly, decisively. And as the current GOP has wedded itself and its prospects lock stock and barrel to the South, the change portends disaster, even irrelevance for the GOP, or, at least, for what it has been.

Frankly, I couldn’t be gladder. The GOP has spent 40 years prolonging the life of long discredited, socially destructive, economically corrupt ways — the boot-heel patriotism, the guns in your face, the clinging to lost wars, the taste for dining and shunning, the glorification of rural hardscrabble — ways which we in the 1960s had every right to think we had put to rest. And which would have been put aside had not the GOP given the old ways a new home and a temporary legitimacy they never deserved.

Now it looks ready to be over, this time for real, because the change is coming from Southerners themselves rather than by outside imposition.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere