GOP runoff shows new angle to minority voting

Sen. Thad Cochran’s GOP primary victory, thanks in part to Black Mississippians who turned out to vote for him, exemplifies a new math that politicians of all persuasions may be forced to learn as this country’s voting population slowly changes complexion.

Cochran’s campaign courted Black voters, perceiving their unhappiness with his tea party-supported opponent, Chris McDaniel, and his anti-government rhetoric and scathing criticisms of President Barack Obama. Blacks responded by turning out to help give Cochran an almost 7,000-vote win. The use of Mississippi’s open primary to further their agenda showed political maturity by Black voters and debunked a longstanding belief that they obediently vote Democratic and not according to their own interests.

They turned out for a primary runoff with no Democratic candidate involved. And they voted Republican even though the smart play for the Democrats would have been to usher McDaniel to victory and create a more winnable contest for Democrat Travis Childers in November.

“I think that Thad Cochran is a shot across the bow to be felt for a long time,” said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was the first minority presidential candidate to win a statewide primary or caucus in 1984 and 1988. “You cannot win in the new South or win in national elections with all-White primaries. This is a new America today.”…

….“This is not a one-time situation,” Orey said. “Blacks do recognize their power in the vote, and in this particular case, blacks saw that they could actually defeat or be a strong influence … in defeating McDaniel.”

In Mississippi, which is 38 percent Black and on track to become the country’s first majority-Black state, some Black voters said they planned to support Cochran, a six-term incumbent, again in November. Others said they would keep their options open in November or vote for the Democrat, even though they considered Cochran a better choice than McDaniel in the red state.

“I just think that McDaniel did as much for the Cochran turnout in the Black community as Cochran people did,” said Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi’s sole Black congressman.

Atlanta Daily World
6/29/14