Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Indianapolis Mayoral Election Results Same Story As Four Years Ago

Ex-radio talk show host Abdul Hakim Shabazz is trying his best to remake Indianapolis political history. If you believe his propaganda, Mayor Greg Ballard beat Democrat Melina Kennedy because he attracted cross-over votes from the city's African American voters. A sloppy analysis by Shabazz asserts the following: "That means a lot of Democrats crossed over. Why? A coalition of African-American businessmen and pastors came to the Mayor's rescue." Four years ago, Shabazz claimed Peterson lost because black voters stayed home in protest at the urging of black ministers. Now he's claiming they convinced blacks to come out and vote and cross over to vote for Ballard. An analysis of the November, 2007 vote actually showed that then-Mayor Bart Peterson out-performed Congressman Andre' Carson's support among black voters in his 2008 special election win over Jon Elrod. As was the case in the election four years ago, Ballard performed yesterday no better than Republican candidates typically perform among black voters in Marion County. In short, he got stomped by Kennedy among African-American voters. Ballard won yesterday because his large margin of support among white voters was insurmountable, even with Kennedy's overwhelming support among black voters.

In 2007, 166,103 voters participated in the municipal general election, which represented 26.32% of the city's registered voters. Yesterday, a little more than 181,000 voters cast votes, an increase of about 15,000 voters, representing just under 30% of the total registered voters. To be sure, turnout among African-American voters was up over the 2007 turnout, but turnout in predominantly white areas of the city ticked up a little as well. Nonetheless, voter turnout was still only up a little more than 3%. Now, let's compare Ballard's 2007 showing compared to this year's results:

BART PETERSON (DEM) .  .  .  .  .  .  .    77,926   47.23
GREG BALLARD (REP)    .  .  .  .  .  .  .    83,238   50.45
FRED PETERSON (LIB)      .  .  .  .  .  .  .    3,787    2.30
WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                         51     .03
                   Total .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .             165,002

MELINA KENNEDY (DEM).  .  .  .  .  .  .   84,968   47.13
GREG BALLARD (REP)    .  .  .  .  .  .  .   92,499   51.31
CHRISTOPHER (OD) BOWEN (LIB) .  .     2,676     1.48
WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                     124       .07

As you can see, Ballard's percentage of the vote in this year's election increased less than 1% over his 2007 vote, 51.31% this year compared to 50.45% in 2007. With the risk of sounding cynical, Ballard's net increase can be attributed entirely to the drop off in support for the Libertarian candidate, Chris Bowen, who received just 1.48% of the vote compared to the 2.3% earned by Fred Peterson in 2007. Libertarians voters are overwhelmingly white voters. Ballard picked up an additional 2,300 votes over his 2007 numbers from straight party Republican votes. Kennedy picked up 12,000 votes from straight party Democratic votes. Straight-party voting was up slightly this year, 61% of votes cast compared to 59% of votes cast four years ago. There is no doubt that Ballard received more black votes than he received in 2007 simply due to the higher turnout, but Kennedy, too, likely received more black votes than Peterson received four years ago.

The precinct-by-precinct breakout that would confirm this analysis is not currently available on the clerk's website, but persons familiar with the precinct tallies indicate that Kennedy's problem in yesterday's election was not due to lower support among black voters; rather, her performance among white voters, which represents more than 70% of the electorate, was as bad as Peterson's performance in 2007, which was ultimately what doomed his re-election. White voters who turned out in yesterday's election, however, scratched their ballots more than white voters who cast votes in the 2007 election, which allowed Democrats to sweep the at-large council races and knock off Republican Susie Day in her Beech Grove district on the city's south side, which is a predominantly white district. Straight-ticket Democratic voting among black voters proved as reliable in this year's election for Marion Co. Democrats as it has in past elections. It is quite possible that Kennedy's attempt to portray Ballard as a racist late in the campaign by twisting his words describing African-Americans as "a difficult population" actually backfired and cost her support among white voters.

UPDATE: Amos Brown is reporting that 45,600 blacks voted in Tuesday's election (25% of votes cast) and that Kennedy captured 85% of the vote black. That means she received 38,760 black votes compared to 6,840 votes for Ballard. In other words, more than 85,000 of the 92,500 votes cast for Ballard came from white voters and other non-black minorities. It also translates into blacks representing 45% of the votes cast for Kennedy, while white voters and other non-black minorities comprised 92% of the votes Ballard received. About 63% of white voters and other non-black minorities voted for Ballard. Another way of looking at it is that a Republican candidate needs to receive slightly more than 60% of the white and non-black votes in order to win elections in Indianapolis as long as blacks continue to vote in such disproportionately high numbers for the Democratic candidates.


Vox Populi said...

I'd agree with you about that ad except it was played on BET and urban radio, not media outlets generally watched/listened to by white voters.

There's no doubt a number of black clergymen and business leaders were behind Ballard, and even the Star's Erika Smith supported him. But the black vote wasn't what cost Kennedy the election, it's because she's not a populist and didn't attack Ballard on the issues where he was vulnerable.

I wanted to see an ad about the Bissard case. I wanted to see him hit on ACS and the water deal. The BR parking garage. I wanted to see attacks on the bribes to Irsay and the Simons. But we got crime and education.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Yes, the race-baiting ads targeted black voters, but the fact they were being used was discussed widely in the local news media prior to the election and brought protestations from Ballard and the Republican Party. The race-baiting pitch is really getting old and turning off white voters.

Gary R. Welsh said...

On Smith backing Ballard and Tully backing Kennedy, I'm pretty sure there was a little role playing go on there. Tully was quite comfortable with Ballard's handling of the city the past four years. The Star faced a huge backlash against Smith's column defending Andre Carson's latest race-baiting antics. I don't think either Tully's or Smith's columns on their mayoral choices was sincere. I think it was quite concocted to show arguments for supporting either candidate.