Racial Politics This Week -- A Mid-Term Election Roundup

Those who know how to win are much more numerous than those who know how to make proper use of their victories.

Polybius (205 BC - 118 BC), The Histories

This week, race and politics came to a head in the 2006 elections. Chris Bowers has already written about the changing political alliances shaping up in American culture. At the crossroads of race, politics and the blogs, George Allen found his senate career cut short after his "macaca""joke" was blasted across progressive blogs. His presidential ambitions have gone up in smoke after the video found its way into the mainstream media. The macaca joke provided an perfect opportunity to remind voters about Allen's racist history and offer voters a new alternative in Senator-elect Jim Webb.

As America diversifies and the majority becomes just another minority (at least in some locations), understanding what minority voter priorities and expectations are -- and meeting at least some of them -- will be important to maintaining and building their loyalty over time.

Howard Dean knows it. Here's what he said post-election:

Yesterday was a historic night as well in the African American community. When presented with a choice, the African American community chose Democrats, because the Democratic Party respects the African American community and creates greater opportunities. We are honored that the African American community has again put their faith in the Democratic Party, and proud that Democrats continue to earn their trust. Democrats like Deval Patrick in Massachusetts and Keith Ellison in Minnesota are making history."(Source: Oliver Willis)

Minority voters aren't stupid. Every major black Republican candidate who ran lost. White voters aren't stupid either.

But It's Not Over Yet

We know from the exit polls that concern about corruption was a major motivation driving voters this season. Americans will be watching to see how Democratic leadership distinguishing itself from the lying, cheating, bigoted criminals who just got ejected. There are still a few races being decided. One of them deserves national attention for its symbolism.

There's a run-off election in a district of Louisiana that might look familiar to folks. Remember Katrina? All those black people in New Orleans and selected areas desperate for help from someone. Anyone. Maybe even one of their elected representatives, for instance. Bill Jefferson (D-LA) is the incumbent from this area:LA-02.

Bill Jefferson is a bad man:

Five days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, on September 2, 2005, Rep. Jefferson allegedly used National Guard troops to check in on his home and collect a few belongings - a laptop computer, three suitcases and a large box. By using the National Guard to visit his home and retrieve property -- at a time when the citizens of New Orleans had no such similar opportunities -- Rep. Jefferson appears to have violated House rules.

DavidNYC at the DailyKos:
Jefferson's behavior was so outrageous that the Democratic caucus, in an extremely rare move, stripped him of his committee assignment. An indictment of Jefferson looks very likely. And as one New Orleans native put it, "You find $100,000 in your freezer, I ain't voting for you." Seventy percent of the voters in Louisiana's second Congressional district apparently agree, because Jefferson carried just 30% of the vote yesterday.

Fortunately for us, Louisiana's unusual electoral system mandates a run-off between the top two finishers whenever the winner fails to reach 50%. That means we can give Jefferson the boot he so richly deserves by supporting the second-place finisher, Karen Carter.

DavidNYC puts it best:

This race matters because we need to send a strong message, a message that the Democratic Party won't tolerate corruption on either side of the aisle. Come January, we're finally going to take back the House. But before we do, we need to clean house first. And that's why the Swing State Project, DailyKos and MyDD are officially endorsing Karen Carter in her runoff on Dec. 9th.

There's more...

Do Jim Webb and George Allen Represent a New Sentiment?

This is also crossposted on Ambivalent Mumblings, Raising Kaine, and the Daily Kos.

After George Allen conceded on Thursday, Democrats across the nation were delighted in the fact that Jim Webb was able to pull off the victory that would give Democrats control of both Houses of Congress for the first time in 12 years. The Jim Webb v George Allen race, however, wasn't completely joyful over the last few months. Ever since George Allen decided to call S.R. Sidarth "macaca" and then welcome him to America, the campaign has taken on a negative tone. In a desperate attempt to take back some momentum, for instance, the Allen campaign began running blatantly false ads that were attacking an article that Webb wrote almost three decades ago. On one occasion the campaign literally did result in Allen's supporters physically attacking a liberal blogger. As the campaign has now ended, however, it appears as though members of both parties are attempting to turn away from partisan attacks. According to the New York Times, for instance, George Allen claimed that he was conceding the race for the good of Virginia.

"I do not wish to cause more rancor by protracted litigation that would not, in my opinion, alter the results," Mr. Allen said, speaking on an unseasonably warm mid-autumn day in Alexandria, Va., to a crowd of staffers and supporters, some in tears. "I see no good purpose being served by continuously and needlessly expending money and causing any more personal animosity."

There's more...

Exit poll: Asian Americans overwhelmingly deliver for Dems

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund has just issued a press release about its exit polling for the 2006 election.  The key quote from AALDEF Executive Director Margaret Fung:
The decade-long trend of Asian American voters favoring Democratic candidates contributed to the dramatic shifts in political power that took place in Tuesday's midterm elections.
All good news here.  A sampling of how Asian Americans voted in key elections:
Virginia Senate -- 76% D versus 21% R
New Jersey Senate -- 77% D versus 21% R
Maryland Senate -- 73% D versus 24% R
Pennsylvania Senate -- 71% D versus 29% R
Massachusetts Governor -- 75% D versus 21% R
Michigan anti-affirmative action proposal -- 76% against

There's more...

MT-Sen, VA-Sen: Burns and Allen To Concede

It won't be long before victory in the Senate is official. From Montana:U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns (news, bio, voting record) conceded defeat to Jon Tester on Thursday, acknowledging that a tight election had gone to the Democrats' favor, Burns' campaign told The Associated Press.

Burns, a three-term senator whose campaign was troubled by verbal gaffes and voter discontent, congratulated Tester, a farmer and state legislator.

"I stand ready to help as Montana transitions to a new United States Senator," Burns said in a statement provided to the AP. "We fought the good fight and we came up just a bit short. We've had a good 18 years and I am proud of my record." Well, he is just about the only one who is proud of it. Buh-bye. Also, from Virginia:U.S. Sen. George Allen is expected to concede the race for the Senate today.

Allen's concession to Democrat Jim Webb would pave the way for the Democrats to gain a majority in the U.S. Senate.

Allen will hold a 3 p.m. news conference at the historic Carlyle House in Old Town Alexandria.

The Allen campaign has been monitoring the local canvassing of the election results and has not seen enough change to affect the outcome. Webb won by about 7,000 votes out of 2.3 million cast. Assuming that Joe Lieberman caucuses with Democrats, that officially gives us control. I don't think there is much remaining energy to strip Lieberman of his seniority, since it could mean we don't take control. This could very well be a DLC dominated Senate for two years, but we will have the agenda, subpoena power, and much more influence over judges. However, considering that in 2008 and 2010 Republicans must defend a wide swath of seats, we will have the opportunity to build a much more progressive Senate relatively soon. And controlling the Senate at all is a vast, vast improvement on our previous position. In 2008, at the very least, I think we have good chances to win Oregon, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Virginia, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Colorado. It will be a target rich environment. Diarist jgkojak has more on this.

Maybe, in a way, it is better that it took two extra days for the Senate to officially become ours. That way, Nancy Pelosi was featured in the news for two days, and now Harry Reid can have his turn. It is particularly sweet that Montana and Virginia put us over the top, showing once again that the people-powered movement can make a big impact in red states too.

VA-SEN: Allen to concede

George Allen will concede the VA-SEN race to Jim Webb this afternoon at 3pm (via MSNBC).

There's more...


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