New Orleans Mayor Election - A View from a Bar

New Orleans' national turmoil now moves into its mayoral election. The current mayor, Ray Nagin, is completing his first term in the previously black-majority town. In his election, he recieved 90% of the white vote, and only a minority of the black vote, though this was enough to win. Now the racial makeup as flipped, with a higher fraction of black residents having yet to return to the city. You would think that since his base has a larger fraction that he'd be a shoe-in, but residents may have reason to blame Nagin for aspects of the disaster. I spoke with two groups of people, blacks -- who pretty much vote as a block, and white liberal artsy types at bars in the bohemian district. Here's what I found:

1) Blacks are now 100% behind Nagin; no other blacks are running, unlike in his last election. They all hate Bush and blame Bush for EVERYTHING, except any factor that predated Bush's term (bulding the levees), which they blame on "the federal goverment". One person did ridicule those who want to postpone the election, or make absentee voting more available: "those people didn't vote anyway!" This person said that the people in town are the ones who are rebuilding, and they alone should get the vote.

2) The white liberal democrats are 97.97% behind Nagin. They also hate Bush as much as the blacks, and they also blame him in particular for as much as possible, and "the federal government" for the rest. The only slight crack in their support was represented by a barkeep who was appalled by Nagin's famous "Chocolate City" comment, which struck her as racist. The white artsy liberals all claimed that they were at least *considering* the other candidates (none of the blacks reported this), but they cited a variety of reasons for sticking by Nagin. One guy -- supported by all who heard him -- said that Nagin made mistakes, but of course he did, since he got no support "from Washington." He said that nobody else would have made fewer mistakes; the bartender who was so made about the Chocolate City comment started swaying back into Nagin's camp. A constant theme among the white liberals: Nagin deserves another chance, and switching in the middle of the mess would be a mistake. I found no reason to think that any of Nagin's opponents would be better than him. The barkeep whose support is wavering likes that he has a business background; so do I.

I conclude that Nagin will show well, and no longer will be surprised if he wins. A similar survey by me led me to conclude that Detroit would oust Kwame Kilpatrick; boy was I wrong!

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