Friday, October 30, 2009

Mary Norwood and race

Hey, did you know that Mary Norwood is white?  No, seriously.  She's from Buckhead, and she's a white housewife.  What?  You knew that?  I just wanted to make sure you were aware, these sorts of things can be hard to catch. 

The big story lines of the election have been:
  • Atlanta is broke!  What a mess...
  • Crime sucks, and so does the police chief
  • Republican bogeyman!
  • Mary Norwood is white
Most of the attention has been on the changing demographics of the City of Atlanta, and the usual suspects have injected race into the debate in a way that the candidates have studiously avoided.  (FTR, I think the DPG attacks on Mary Norwood are poor form.)

However, what I really want to focus on is the fact that Norwood is getting 34% of the black vote according to the cross tabs in the latest Insider Advantage polling.  She is pulling more black support than either black candidate.  She is pulling 56% of white voters, which is a majority but far from an overwhelming landslide. 

Let's say that Norwood were polling at say 10% among black voters (about what Republicans can expect to get from black voters).  By my math, she'd only be getting 32% of the total votes, and we'd be talking about a much closer race. 

If Mary Norwood is Mayor of Atlanta, it will be because of black voters, and their willingness to vote for a white candidate.

Just something to chew on the next time someone from Macon who traffics in selling outrage wants to tell you this election is all about race. 


  1. Great analysis, which should lead to the conclusion that this election is turning not on "race" but "class"--and specifically, how class identity, affiliation, and resentment is working within Atlanta's African-American community in 2009.

    If Norwood wins, it'll be because Atlanta's poorest citizens, most of whom are African American, have decided that the past three decades of upper-middle class African-American leadership have left them high and dry.

    THIS is the key to the 2009 mayoral elections.

  2. I linked to your last two posts on Atlanta Unsheltered, FYI.

    You make so many great points. I wonder if there's a political future for you?!

  3. Grazie mille, Ciambellina. I was pleased to discover your blog, which is fantastico!

    No political future for me. I'm just a social scientist by training who is underwhelmed by the quality of local political reporting in Atlanta.

    I'm a fan of Atlanta Unsheltered and Terminal Station. If I have something to say, I want to do it where the discourse is civil, somewhat unpredictable, and focussed on making Atlanta a better place.


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