The 2010 Electorate In MS-01
Before reading further, please understand that a lot of the information below is based on hypotheticals- although based on the best, most accurate assumptions we can find out there. In this piece, I attempt to compare the 2008 and 2010 electorate in MS-01. As we have seen nationally, the electorate has become more Republican for the 2009 gubernatorial elections as well as the special election in Massachusetts earlier this year. A big chunk of that is due to the fact that the electorate is simply more white- meaning blacks and other minorities are turning out in smaller numbers than they did for Obama in 2008.
I don’t have district specific exit polling to get the exact racial breakdown of MS-01 in 2008, nor do I have a crystal ball that will tell me what November will bring. But, using good information I estimate that the black vote constituted 25 percent of the electorate in the district in 2008. (Census data puts the black population at around 27 percent in MS-01, and on a statewide basis the black vote actually made up about four percent less of the vote than they did in Census data that year- 37 percent of the population, 33 percent of the electorate). Considering that Obama won around 98 percent of the black vote statewide, I don’t think it hard to guesstimate that Travis Childers won a solid 95 percent of that bloc. That would translate into about 85,000 votes total with 80,000 going to Childers. Childers would win another 105,000 votes out of the other 255,000 votes cast. That means Childers won somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-41 percent of the white vote- to 57 or 58 percent to his Republican opponent Greg Davis (a very high total for a Democrat in Mississippi).
If the black vote dipped to 20 percent of the electorate and racial patterns remained the same- Childers would still be victorious. However, that is due to the fact that he won by more than 10 percent last time around. His victory this time would be by the thinnest of margins. To be OK, Childers most likely needs to win 40 percent of the white vote. For Alan Nunnelee to win, he needs to pull around 62 of the white vote (leaving some margin for error in both cases). However, if the black vote stayed around 25 percent of the electorate (where I believe it was last time), Childers would be able to win with about 36 percent of the vote. In that instance, Nunnelee would need to win 65-66 percent of the white vote.