Over the weekend, The Memphis Flyer’s intrepid political reporter, Jackson Baker, had the opportunity to see the Herenton campaign in action. His report gives some insight into the attitude of the campaign. The verdict, they’re measuring for drapes.
From the article:
He began moderately but with a promise, appropriately cheered, “that we are going to win this election.” In its dire projections as to his electoral fate, the disbelieving media, he said, is confusing likely countywide totals with those of the9th District, which, “always remember…is a subset of the county.” And thus all those reports of higher-than-usual turnouts from white and Republican voters should be disregarded.
He promised to release the details of a poll on Tuesday, which would show, “data-wise with high predictability value of how large our margin will be.” That putative margin over Cohen could be estimated as between 3 to 1 and 4 to 1, Herenton said, “I’d like to beat him so bad I like the 4 to 1.”
Cohen’s well-documented financial edge? “I’ve never seen a dollar vote.” Nor could President Obama and the members of the Congressional Black Caucus who’ve endorsed Cohen vote. “But you can vote. And you’re going to vote.” Another cheer. “The black voters are going to determine who’s going to Congress.”
The win ratio that Herenton is talking about would mean that he expects to beat Cohen by the same margin that Cohen beat Tinker in the 2008 primary. That would be something. But Herenton wasn’t done. Here’s some more from Jackson’s report.
“To even make this race comfortably close,” Herenton said, Cohen would have to get “six out of ten of us.” And with “our folks …voting like mad,” that was not going to happen. “You got to watch these white folks,” he warned, speaking of alleged “irregularities” that occurred during the 2006 election. “Anything goes down, you got to watch white folks counting.” That was one of the lessons learned on the slave ships, Herenton said, somewhat incongruously.
“It will not be close. Look at the demographics of the 9th Congressional District,” Herenton said. Those Democratic candidates who stayed away from him, “the same way Gore stayed away from Clinton” were going to be in trouble. “The way they win is heavily dependent on the black vote. [But] they treat me like I’ve got a plague. But see, I don’t need them. All I need is you.”
Again, he promised to release a poll with “factual information” on the probable outcome on August 5. He ridiculed pollsters “Yacoubian, Ethridge, and Bakke,” and said, “Put all of them together, and they won’t come up with one good poll.”
I did some research of the voter participation list and found that 43039 people have voted in the 9th district Democratic primary during the early voting period. Sorting that data by the State House District that has the highest number of votes in the Democratic Primary shows that five predominantly African-American House districts are the most active participants in the Democratic primary. Who those votes are going to, however, is in question.
Three of the House Districts with the greatest participation have active primaries against the incumbent. This could account for some the higher turnout. Still, even this doesn’t give us a picture of who these folks are voting for, unless you count race as the only determining factor. If voters are heading out to the polls and voting along racial lines, there’s a good chance that it will be a long night for Congressman Cohen.
However, no demographic division votes monolithically. I know white people who support Herenton, and black people who support Cohen. So what does all this tell us? In the end, not much. Many assumptions have to be made, based on the data I have, to get to the 3:1 or 4:1 ratio that Herenton is talking about. Because the voter participating list that I have doesn’t include race, there’s no way to know for sure who or how many of any demographic division are showing up to the polls outside of the probability based on voter registrations. That probability is the fatal flaw in any guestimation of who wins or loses.
Either way, it’s going to be an interesting election night. So far, only 13% of registered voters in the 9th district have shown up to the polls and only 10% have pulled a Democratic ballot. There’s still plenty of opportunity for this election to swing wildly on election day. Believe me, I’ll be watching.