Thursday, March 9, 2017

Mayor’s Race & Black Turnout


     The black community in St. Louis is in a funk about the potential for a black mayor being lost by, in relative terms, a handful of votes in this past Tuesday's election, and also seething in thinking that had there not been so many black candidates in the race an African-American woman would be the city's next mayor.   All around the community the drums are sounding the question: "Why couldn't they have been smart enough to just have one black running?"
     However, before we jump to this plausible eyeball analysis that the number of black candidates was the cause of our being denied what a black woman would bring to that office let us first look at the data to see whether this factor bears out as the cause of our loss.
     There was a factor that weighed more heavily perhaps as the decisive factor in the election than the number of blacks in the race - black turnout.  The turnout in the eleven (11) wards headed by black aldermen had a turnout rate of 24%.  If you exclude the three (3) wards  - 6, 17, 20 - headed by white aldermen which have heavy, if not predominant, black residents, and focus on the turnout of the vote in the other fourteen (14) wards headed by white aldermen, then the average voter turnout in these wards was 31%.  To put it another way, whites came out more to vote for a white mayor than blacks came out to vote for a black one.
     In the election, the eleven (11) black wards turned out 17,010 voters out of a total of 70,846 registered voters in these ward.   If the turnout had, for example, averaged 30% in these eleven wards, rather than the 24%, that would have produced a total of 21,254 voters.  Consequently, the difference between what the turnout in these eleven wards would have been had there been a 30% turnout and the actual election turnout is 4,244 voters.   
Of the votes cast in these eleven black wards, Tishaura Jones received 33% of the votes.  If she had received this same percentage with a 30% turnout in these wards, then she would have received 1400 additional votes.  Lyda Krewson received 10% of the vote in these eleven wards.  Consequently, if there had been a 30% turnout in these wards, she would have received 424 additional votes.   If these 424 votes are added to the 17,110 votes Krewson received in the election, then her total votes – under this scenario of a 30% black turnout – would have been 17,534.  If, on the other hand, 1400 votes were added to the 16,222 Jones received in the election, then her vote total would have been 17,622. 
     What this illustrates is that if the black turnout had increased six percentage points – from 24% to 30% - Tishaura Jones would be the next mayor, notwithstanding several African American candidates in the race.
     What this suggests is that more effort and energy should perhaps be devoted to getting blacks to exercise their right to vote than trying to talk capable black elected officials out of seeking higher office in order to have a sole black candidate.
    Click this link to for the article titled Higherturnout among black voters could have changed mayoral election by Eric E. Vickers, courtesy of St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Eric E. Vickers

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