Friday, January 16, 2009

Obama Victory Analysis: Pre-Inauguration Edition Part 2

It became clear in last winter in South Carolina that African-Americans were going to support Barack Obama in ways that they hadn't supported previous candidates. So, how did this support manifest itself on election day? Let's see how African-Americans helped elect the first African-American president. Let's start in one of Obama's more impressive victories, Virginia. A lot was made of the new residents of Northern Virginia or "fake" Virginia in Republican parlance. However, Obama's appeal to African-Americans helped him win in "real" Virginia as well. Especially, in its capital of Richmond. Like last time 2004, 2008 results followed by increase in voter turnout.

Year Democrat Republican
2004 52,167 21,637
2008 73,180 18,472

County Increase in Democratic Turnout: 40.28%
Statewide Increase in Democratic Vote: 34.61%

It is impressive that even in Richmond, which is not growing like Northern Virgnia, Obama exceeded his statewide increases in support. Twenty thousand new voters in a city which is 57% Black is, in all likelihood, largely attributable to increases in African-American turnout. Richmond was not the only city to see a spike in turnout. Many analysts argue that the race was over when John McCain decided to pull out of Michigan. Michigan is a fairly reliably Democratic state. However, in recent years Republicans have been competitive enough to draw Democratic resources to the state. Bush lost by only 4 points in 2004 for instance. Wayne county, which is principally the city of Detroit, is a major reason that John McCain decided he couldn't compete in the state. Here's the tale of the tape:

Year Democrat Republican
2004 600,047 257,700
2008 656,303 216,880

County Increase in Democratic Turnout: 9.37%
Statewide Increase in Democratic Vote: 15.6%

Here the numbers may not seem all that impressive. However, the margin in Wayne County is key to Democratic victory in Michigan. In 2004, Bush won the rest of the state. While Obama did better outside of Detroit, there was no way McCain was going to make up a 440,000 vote deficit in Detroit. As soon as McCain's people figured out that Detroiters were going to show up, they walked. Wayne County is 42% African-American. If McCain could have kept Obama on the defensive in states like Michigan, Obama would have had to give up on states like Indiana and North Carolina. African-American turnout in Wayne County, MI and elsewhere made it possible for Obama to keep on the offensive red states.

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