An article in today's New York Times by Adam Nossiter and Janny Scott analyzes the effect a surge in black voter turnout had on the Mississippi election of Democrat Travis W. Childers in a traditionally Republican district.
Kelvin Buck, a black state representative who helped the Childers campaign, said he saw a "level of enthusiasm and energy" that he had not seen before from black voters — significantly motivated, he said, by a recent Republican anti-Obama campaign.
As you may recall, Republicans made a big financial and time investment in their candidate, even to the point of having Dick Cheney fly his Tie-fighter in just before election day. They also played the Obama card, trying to use Senator Obama against Childers in a guilt-by-association play worthy of Karl Rove.
It didn't work.
Between an initial vote on April 22, when Mr. Childers fell just shy of getting the 50 percent he needed to win, and Tuesday’s runoff election, when he won with a decisive 54 percent, the Republican campaign to link Mr. Childers with Mr. Obama intensified, with a barrage of advertisements specifically on that theme. Perhaps not coincidentally, vote totals in counties with large black populations went up sharply between those two dates.
In fact, it seems to have backfired.
The attacks on Mr. Obama clearly had a galvanizing effect, local officials said. "The people I talked to said, ‘Man, I don’t like that they’re trying to use Obama against him,’ " said Eric Powell, a black state senator who helped in voter turnout efforts. "It actually helped Travis."
The only sad part of this story is that Childers fearfully tried to distance himself from Obama. He even ran an ad saying that he didn't even know Barack Obama. Hopefully, Mr. Childers is now cognizant of the error of his ways. Instead of running from Obama, he should have been running toward him. In any event, another Democrat is on the way to Congress. Those Obama coattails are mighty powerful. Mighty powerful indeed.