My latest op-ed, title above, appeared in The Virginian-Pilot Thursday. The title references this:
Norfolk voters in the 6th ceded the decision of who should represent us to voters in those three [Accomack, Northampton, and Mathews counties] localities. Combined, they accounted for about 53 percent of the votes cast Tuesday.
Writing, as I typically do, early Wednesday morning, that statement was based on my analysis of the votes cast as of that time. I’ve updated my calculations for the totals as of this morning – and they hold true. Norfolk voters overwhelmingly stayed at home Tuesday.
|11/1/13 reg voters||% of district||votes cast||% of votes cast||turnout|
(I had to use the 11/1/13 registered voter totals because that is the latest available on the SBE website. Norfolk’s was actually slightly higher – 62,483 – according to the official results (pdf) from the city.)
That nearly 85% of Norfolk voters in the 6th stayed at home is absolutely appalling. While I’m holding my thoughts as to why this race was so close for another post, let me just put one thing to rest right now.
I’ve heard an awful lot of comments about the black vote in Norfolk. Let’s be perfectly clear: this time, it wasn’t about the black vote not turning out. Norfolk is not a majority black city. As of 2010 (pdf), Norfolk is 47% white, 43% black, and 10% other races. The trick to understanding where the white and black vote is in Norfolk is by looking at the precinct numbers, because the first digit matches the ward in which they are located. Norfolk has three majority white wards – 1, 2 & 5 – and two majority black wards – 3 & 4. While there are precincts within each majority black ward that are majority white – like my own, 406, which the mayor famously said during the city’s redistricting, movement of which to the majority black superward 7 would make that ward “more white”- and vice versa, they are few.
The precincts in Norfolk in the 6th Senate, save my ward, are all in the majority white wards of the city and encompass some of the wealthiest areas. Last November, Norfolk gave Terry McAuliffe an overwhelming victory, nearly 69% of the vote. But if you look at just the precincts in the 6th, you’d see a different picture. My calculations show these precincts went for McAuliffe over Ken Cuccinelli by a smaller 58% to 33% margin. The 10-point differential? The black vote in the rest of the city.
And don’t forget the entire district is but 28% black.
There’s a whole lot of reasons why this race was closer than many – myself included – thought it would be. But the black vote wasn’t one of the reasons.
My column appears in The Virginian-Pilot every week, usually on Thursdays. You can see the columns as they are published here, or navigate to them from the PilotOnline.com homepage by clicking on Opinion and then choosing my name at the bottom of the dropdown list. You can also see the columns by liking my Facebook page. Although my column appears weekly, I am not and have never been an employee of The Virginian-Pilot.Follow @vpaige