Allan was wrong, as usual. He thought that Governor Mitt Romney was still riding the momentum of his fine performance in the first Presidential debate. Unfortunately for Romney and the Republican Party, the Romney momentum was overpowered by the winds of Hurricane Sandy and the pictures of President Obama being presidential, bringing aid and solace to the stricken.
But there were other factors too. Governor Romney ran great among white male voters. However, white voters in America are a declining majority. In 2004, white voters made up 77 percent of the electorate. In 2008, they were 74 percent of the electorate. And, this time, white voters constituted 72 percent of the electorate. It doesn’t take a genius to see which way this is going.
Meanwhile, Hispanics, who in the past were reluctant voters, are figuring out the game – in America, power flows from the voting booth. During the Republican primaries, Governor Romney went far to the right on immigration policy. In the general election, he tried to come back to the middle but it was too late. President Obama got 70 percent of the Hispanic vote and it could have been even worse for the GOP.
The Republican pre-election analysis held that African-Americans came out in huge numbers for Obama in 2008 but were now turned off because he had accomplished so little that directly helped them. Wrong. Turnout by African-Americans – who voted more than 90 percent for Obama – was just as strong as four years ago, as was the turnout of young voters who gave Obama 70 percent of the votes.
The Republicans were also damaged by the radicalism of their Tea Party candidates. Two Tea Party candidates for the U.S. Senate who once seemed likely to win instead lost after one spoke of “legitimate rapes,” and the other said that when rapes occurred, it was “God’s will.” Both expressed the view that a rape victim has the power, if she so wishes, to reject the sperm of the rapist. I don’t know about your 9th grade biology teacher but ours would have given both guys a big F. President Obama led by 12 points among women voters and, again, it could have been worse.
Even in a red state like Louisiana, a coalition of black and Hispanic voters, along with the handful of white voters who support liberal candidates, could be challenging the Republican tide by 2020 unless the GOP becomes more inclusive.
In local elections, did you notice that the African-American majority in Algiers asserted itself and ousted several white incumbents in favor of black candidates? Like the rest of the Westbank, Algiers politics may be in for a significant change.
On the Orleans Parish School Board, the defeat of three white incumbents means there will be an African-American majority on that board for the first time since Hurricane Katrina with a new probably African-American president and a mandate to select a new superintendent.
In Uptown politics, many friends and admirers of the Strachan family and their long tradition of public service were saddened when Eric ran third in the special election for the District B seat formerly held by Stacy Head. Eric ran a good race but couldn’t overcome LaToya Cantrell, a Broadmoor neighborhood activist, and Dana Kaplan, a newcomer to New Orleans who has been a force in the reform of our wayward juvenile justice system.
In District E, State Rep. Austin Badon ran stronger than expected. Badon has the support of Stacy Head who he endorsed in her Council At Large race. Running second was James Gray who has the backing of Mayor Landrieu. Gray’s candidacy may have been undone by the revelation that while he claims his domicile to be a home he owns in Eastern New Orleans, the house is still not habitable since Katrina.
Regardless whether Cantrell or Kaplan wins the December runoff, there will be six women members of the New Orleans City Council in 2013. Let’s see how the two new members fit into the Council’s complicated alliances.
Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. Columbus is a paid consultant to the Dana Kaplan campaign, and they both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City Councilwoman Stacy Head, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and state Rep. Robert Billiot.