Expect a heaping helping today of this brand of conventional wisdom, as peddled by the campaign of Artur Davis:
While hard numbers were not yet available late Tuesday, long time observers in Davis' camp said Sparks' victory appears to have been achieved, at least in part, because of low voter turnout among blacks who, unlike two years ago when they showed up in big numbers to vote for Barack Obama, showed no such enthusiasm for Davis on Tuesday.
There is only one problem. The conventional wisdom is nowhere close to true. Consider the following graph of counties that are either partially or wholly in Davis' 7th Congressional District. Look at the vote totals, and look at how some of the blackest districts in Alabama behaved:
Wilcox County (72% African American): Sparks wins 76-24
Clarke County (43% African American): Sparks wins 72-28
Perry County (68% African American): Sparks wins 72-28
Greene County (80% African American): Sparks wins 68-32
Marengo County (52% African American): Sparks wins 66-34
It wasn't that African-American voters did not come out and support their guy. They did, it was simply the fact that, with few exceptions (Sumter County being one, Choctaw County the other), they supported the other guy. Indeed, of the dozen counties either partially or wholly within the seventh district, Ron Sparks carried ten of them. Davis carried only two of them, and both of those with just 52% of the vote.
So, it was Davis' base that rejected him, and they did so soundly.
Why? Ta-Nehisi Coates explains this rather succinctly:
The underlying premise seems to be that Davis was somehow entitled to black votes. This despite the fact, as Michael Tomasky points out, that Davis reps a majority black district where one in five people lack health-care, but voted against the health care bill. You don't get to just stand in front the people and say "Hey I'm black and smart" and then wait for the torrent of civic pride.