And, as the vote draws even nearer in Mississippi, the last round of polls have been released. They seem to dispel the idea that the state will be a tight race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The most telling one though is the latest Insider Advantage one. While it predicted a 6% lead for Obama on the 6th of March, three days later, on th 9th, their data indicated that Obama is, in fact, in the lead by 17% – 54% to 37%. A much healthier, and better, poll for Obama.
As someone commented on the previous post, and as I have stated many times, where the data is collected, what time even, can have a bearing on what the results say. If, for example, the data gathers were in Rankin, Madison, or Hinds (Hinds being the county where the capital Jackson is located), then Obama’s figures are going to be like the 24% lead previous polls registered him with. On the other hand, if the pollsters were out in the North-West counties like Desoto, Tunica, Coahoma, and Bolivar, then you would have a very tight race, as there are only small areas where there are centres of population 5,000 or more. And we know that Obama performs best in the urban and ‘populated’ counties, while Clinton performs best in the rural counties. Similarly, the North-West border of Mississippi shares its dividing line with Arkansas – one of Clinton’s home states. And to the North, the state borders Tennessee – a state Clinton won by 12%.
I’ve covered the demographics before – in this post – and the stakes remain the same. The only new thing to say about this is that the ‘black’ vote is predicted to make something like 45% to 50% (with nearer to 50% being the most spoken number). And with Obama averaging 80% of the ‘black’ vote across all the states, with Clinton only managing 12%, I’d say that Obama has a slight head start. Slight might be an understatement actually …
The Demographics matter quite a bit as the evidence (polls, literature, news, etc.) to come out of the state indicate that there is still a significant degree of racial polarisation. That explains why Obama is performing very well with white males outside of Southern states (65%+), and making in-roads with white females too (splitting them with Clinton on averages), but is losing by 47% to Clinton among white voters in Mississippi. The polling data seems to indicate that a significant proportion of the ‘white’ vote will not vote for the ‘black’ candidate.
A little bit more on demographics. In terms of winning net counties (and, as a result, delegates), it helps Obama that the African-American population is a majority in some of these counties: Yazoo County (54%), Hinds County (61%), Issaquena County (63%), Sharkey County (70%), Humphreys County (72%), Holmes County (79%). These are the counties that make up most of the Yazoo Delta. More of the South-West counties and the central counties have similar African-American majorities. Mainly, it’s from when African-Americans could buy land and set up their own farms, or when they were working on plantations and cotton farms prior to emancipation, and stayed in the area.
Politically, you might expect Mississippi to be running red veins, much less blood. I was somewhat surprised to see that the state only elected Democratic governors for 116 years – 1876 to 1992. Of course, that might have something to do with the whole Civil War, and Abe Lincoln being a Republican who mad the state’s life ‘hell’. Similarly, the Democratic party had previously dominated the state’s domestic politics until the 1960’s. Then the Republican party became more appealing. John F. Kennedy was voted in by the state, and so too was Jimmy Carter. But other than that (and the one-off time the state voted for George Wallace from the American Independent Party) the state has sent its electoral college votes to the Republican party each time.
Another interesting Mississippi politics fact: The state has more African-American elected officials in state politics than any other state in the U.S.
Mississippi should be a convincing Obama win. It will certainly be an Obama win, and the margin could conceivably reach as high as 20%. And in this late stage of the primary race, that’s a big win. And it would mean another 60%+ win – the margin that I said would bring this race back into Obama’s court.