D.C. At-Large Race: Orange Took Majority-Black Wards

Courtesy: Patrick Madden

The scene outside one of the polling places in the District Tuesday.

Democrat and former D.C. Councilman Vincent Orange won D.C.’s special election to fill an At-Large council seat, besting opponents in a crowded field. The breakdown for this particular election seems to mirror what happened in the 2010 mayoral race: election returns showing a schism between the city’s majority white and black wards.

The unofficial results don’t give us numbers on the racial breakdown of voters, but they do show Orange won in all of the city’s majority black wards: Ward 4 (35 percent of votes) ,Ward 5 (55 percent of votes), Ward 7 (61 percent of votes), and Ward 8 (66 percent votes). Did the racial undertones of the campaign have an effect on the result? The Washington Post reports that Orange’s name-recognition helped him pull in votes:

On Tuesday, several residents said they voted for Orange because they thought he was experienced and they didn’t know enough about the other candidates.

“Rest of these guys, it’s their first time out,” said George Poynter, 87, who voted at Patterson Elementary School in Washington Highlands, in Ward 8. “We’d be right back where we started.”

Yet Orange struggled to win over voters in neighborhoods in the western part of the city, resulting in an electoral split similar to last year’s mayoral race, in which Gray unseated Adrian M. Fenty (D).

Two of those majority-white western wards — Wards 2 and 3 — were carried by Republican Patrick Mara, who also took majority-white Ward 6, while Democrat Bryan Weaver took his home Ward 1.

D.C. Special Election Round-Up: Race-Baiting, Apologies and Discrimination

The special election to fill an At-Large seat on the D.C. City Council will be held Tuesday, and a demographic shift could result: depending on the results, the council may be majority white, majority black or have its first Hispanic member. And since no D.C. election is complete without race and class issues coming to the fore, here is a quick recap:

–The latest back-and-forth originated after Sunday when Democrat Vincent Orange was out in Ward 8, handing out fliers developed by a group of residents that included this statement: “He walks like us. He talks like us…” The incident led to some pondering over what it means to walk and talk like Orange, and also denouncements over such a tactic.

DC is making some progress. Race cards not drawn until final weekend of the election. Very sad to see that happen at all.
Dave Stroup

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Tweet of Two Days Ago

For the 2nd time in 5 months, fmr. gov. and sen candidate George Allen asks me,"what position did you play?" I did not a play a sport.
Craig Melvin

Craig Melvin is a tall, black man. Oh, and he happens to be an NBC4 reporter.

Former governor George Allen later tweeted an explanation:

.@craigmelvin sorry if I offended, ask people a lot if they played sports Grew up in football family found sports banter good way to connect
George Allen

Perhaps Allen reminding Melvin of his football roots isn’t the best tactic, though.

“A New Era of Polarizing Racial Politics in the District”

Flickr: dharmabumx

Adidas shoes, Chocolate City-edition

Now reading: “Will white identity politics come to post-post-racial D.C.?“, by Adam Serwer at the City Paper.

But just as the browning of America has awoken a novel white identity politics nationally, the demographic forces that framed D.C.’s last mayoral election may prove to be the prologue to a new era of polarizing racial politics in the District, one in which explicitly catering to its most affluent white residents is a path to victory rather than a route to an ignominious defeat.

The Census numbers released last week showed that D.C.’s black residents have been fleeing the city in even larger numbers than expected, leaving blacks with a bare 50 percent majority of the population. The raw racial and cultural divide exposed by the contest between Gray and Fenty is also exacerbated by which residents are leaving. In 2009, the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute noted that “while incomes have risen for white households and those with the most advanced educations, incomes have been stagnant or falling for others.” The exodus of the city’s black middle class only exacerbates the trend. Playing to a base of black voters, now more than ever, also means playing to a base of poor voters.

Fenty Lost Because of Style, not School Reform

Flickr: Intangible Arts

Former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty with a young constituent in 2007.

Our former Mayor is in denial about why he’s no longer in office, according to TBD. Hint: he may not be a martyr to education reform, after all.

In interview after interview, the ex-mayor and Michelle Rhee, his former schools chancellor, have argued that political defeat is what happens to those who are so bold as to champion an aggressive stance toward teachers unions and a program of radical shifts in how business is conducted in the classroom…

The real danger lies not in pursuing Fenty-Rhee-style education reform, but in pursuing anything in the Fenty-Rhee style. That means no dissing the media at every turn. No brushing aside the concerns of great Americans. No scorning the notion of legislative oversight.

For as long as he remains in denial about his mayoralty, Fenty will likely keep peddling his tale of woe about education reform. As time wears on, however, he’ll have to make peace with the facts: His signature issue of education reform is popular among District voters, who still saw fit to vote him out of office.

A Better Post about African Americans and Voting

So, I’ve been a bit sad that no one ever comments on DCentric, even though I know better than to take it personally– I’ve been blogging for eight years, and in the beginning, no one. ever. comments. But, after yesterday’s post about African Americans and voting, several of you spoke up– and one of your comments was better than my post, itself.

Making up 10% of the voting electorate can’t meant that only 10% of registered African Americans voted. ~ 90 odd million people voted, so 10% of that is approximately 9 million voting African Americans. Voter participation in this midterm election was supposed to be 42%, so if 90 million = 42%, the total registered voter pool was 214 million, and 13% of that means there are probably 27 – 28 million registered African Americans. 9 million out of 27 million is much closer to 32- 33% participation rate, not a measly 4.7%. That’s pretty comparable to the general rate of 42%, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the discrepancy is due to being disproportionately burdened by the factors that depress voting for the less than wealthy. It’s a working day, not a holiday, there’s no childcare, and polls are often hard to get to–all things we should fix. ( I got my statistics on the voting numbers from this AP article by Matthew Daly.). According to Wikipedia In 2000 there were 36 million African Americans in the united states, so assuming growth was steady, there are about 40 million *now*. Many of those people are under the age of 18, so they can’t vote, so that means over all participation was AT LEAST 25%. That strikes me as pretty respectable–especially when you consider wide spread evidence that African Americans have been disproportionately and unfairly disenfranchised b/c of the discrepancy in felony status laws regarding the use of crack vs. the use of cocaine, not to mention other less clearcut kinds of unfairness in the criminal justice system.

Moral of the story: we need more numeracy in all of our communities. Support the Algebra Project.

Uh, I’ll take quality like that over quantity, any time. Thanks for breaking it down so beautifully, Saheli.

Why was “African Americans” a trending topic on Twitter?

A riff on Slate's infamous "Brown Twitter Bird", inspired by their “How Black People Use Twitter”-piece.

At any point throughout the day, Twitter lists the ten most popular “topics” being discussed on its micro-blogging service. As soon as they rolled out this feature, I opted to see a more specific list of what was popular in Washington, D.C. vs. a world-wide compilation of hot topics.

This afternoon, I noticed that “African Americans” was trending. Initially, all the tweets I read regarding that topic had to do with yesterday’s election, specifically a rumor that only 4.7% of African Americans voted. There was no source for the statistic and it was on fire, showing up in hundreds of tweets, every minute. There was also some consternation being expressed at the lack of African Americans in the Senate. I chose to focus on the former issue, and collected some tweets:
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Another Reason Why D.C. Needs Voting Representation


Senate hopeful Kendrick Meek lost in Florida yesterday.

I hadn’t thought of this fact, until I read “America Is So Post-Racial, We Don’t Even Need Black People in Our Senate“:

I wanted to raise awareness around the rather unbelievable fact that the next United States Senate will not have ONE African-American in its ranks.

As reported by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, all three black Senate candidates, Kendrick Meek (D-FL), Alvin Greene (D-SC) and Mike Thurmond (D-GA) have lost their bids. The only incumbent black senator, Roland Burris (D-IL), is retiring.

Only six black senators have served including Burris: three Republicans and three Democrats, Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL), Edward Brooke (R-MA), Blanche K. Bruce (R-MS), Hiram Revels (R-MS before 1874, D-MS after 1874) and current President Barack Obama (D-IL).

More proof that Voting is confusing.

This is still my favorite Election Day story:

Supporters of a write-in campaign for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), aiming to make the process as simple as possible, have made ink stamps bearing Fenty’s name, which voters can take into the polls to stamp their ballots.

But it wasn’t so simple for one Fenty supporter Tuesday afternoon. That voter, at Precinct 51 at Lafayette Elementary School in the Chevy Chase neighborhood, appears to have used the stamp on the screen of an electronic machine, election officials said.

The stamps, it apparently does not go without saying, are meant to be used on paper ballots only. [wapo]

I promise, no voting machines were harmed during the making of this post. I was surprised that the ink stamps are legal– and that this isn’t the first time they’ve been pressed in to service. Supporters of Anthony Williams used them eight years ago as well!

Live from Busboys and Poets…Election Night!

We are here at Busboys and Poets on 14th street, where Free Speech TV is hosting a panel discussion/dinner during a live broadcast of election night coverage. Interesting tidbits from the panel, below:

Midterm elections = an older and whiter turnout?

“Race is always a huge factor in the United States.”

The racial divisions that existed before Obama was President, existed after…and in some ways, are worse.”

If 2008 was the year of Obama, is 2010 about voters “demanding a recount”?

Discussion of how Obama built a movement around himself in ’08, but not in ’10, when some may have hoped to ride his coattails.

Is America a Center-Right nation?

– they are taking a break. a panel has been lowered…over the panel. –

Panel now discussing whether Obama was progressive enough. “He could be FDR or he could be Bill Clinton…he chose ‘Bill Clinton’”.

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