‘A lot of the value in having a mayor who’s African-American is symbolic.’

Source: Negrophile.com

[…] In the primary election a month ago, Nagin took home 38 percent of the vote – and 70 percent came from blacks. The 29 percent support for Mr. Landrieu came from a broader cross-section of people.

While both camps say they don't put any stock in polling data since so many residents are displaced and hard to reach, a Tulane University poll released Wednesday showed Landrieu's support at 48 percent of respondents while Nagin had the support of 38 percent. Another 14 percent said they were still undecided.

Because that 14 percent is greater than the margin between the two, says Brian Brox, one of the political scientists conducting the poll, "the focus for both candidates has to be on turnout."

Last month's primary showed the hardship of reaching new black voters when the overall percentage of blacks who voted was lower than a normal election, while whites voted at the same rate as previous elections. This was partly because the majority of those displaced by hurricane Katrina were blacks, and they had difficulty casting ballots in other places. […]

[…] Both candidates have also been trying to shore up their weaknesses. For Landrieu, that means reaching out to conservative white voters. With his large war chest, he has been working to draw votes from those who supported white businessmen Ron Forman and Robert Couhig in the primary. Mr. Forman, who came in third, endorsed Landrieu, and Mr. Couhig, who came in fourth, endorsed Nagin.

Still, white voters overwhelmingly supported white candidates in the primary, and Professor Brox sees no change in the runoff. His poll shows almost 70 percent of poll respondents supporting Landrieu. "I think there's a large portion of white conservative voters who will be holding their noses and voting for Landrieu," he says. […]

| That was from Kris Axtman's Christian Science Monitor article "New Orleans vote coming down to race" one day before the election.

[…] With all of the city's 442 precincts reporting, Mr. Nagin had 52 percent of the vote, while Mr. Landrieu received 48 percent.

Mr. Nagin, an African-American, won about 21 percent of the votes of whites, as well as over 80 percent of the black vote, according to a local elections analyst and political consultant, Greg Rigamer. Mr. Landrieu appeared to have lost black votes that he picked up in last month's primary, Mr. Rigamer said in an interview. […]

[…] Mr. Nagin raised far less money than Mr. Landrieu did and had little of the business and establishment support that helped him take office four years ago. But he appeared to benefit from a surge of votes cast by those displaced from the city by the hurricane, who were encouraged to vote with absentee ballots and at satellite polling stations set up around Louisiana.

Mr. Nagin retained the strong allegiance of black residents here, who are still in the majority, albeit more narrowly than before the hurricane. They did not blame him for missteps during the storm and afterwards, and many said they simply wanted the man who led the city during the last hurricane to continue leading it through future ones.

For months, Mr. Nagin played on that underlying loyalty and remade his political persona, going from a candidate originally favored by whites to one making an overt appeal to black unity and pride.

A speech in January in which he vowed that New Orleans would once again be a "chocolate city" outraged whites, but brought a smile to many black voters.

In addition, conservative whites who have long mistrusted the Landrieu family have consistently found Mr. Nagin's business background — he was a cable television company executive here — appealing.

Other white voters, in interviews, unfavorably contrasted Mr. Landrieu's stiff delivery with the mayor's resonant New Orleans colloquialisms. And during Mr. Nagin's administration, in notable contrast to those of his predecessors, there have been no patronage or other scandals. […]

| And that's from Adam Nossiter's New York Times article "Voters Re-elect Nagin as Mayor of New Orleans" the morning after the election.

[…] Only 8% of whites voted for Nagin in last month's primary.

"The mayor is a powerful symbol to many African American voters that this is a black city and it's going to remain so," said Susan Howell, a professor of political science at the University of New Orleans.

Landrieu dominated in white precincts, but his showing among blacks — about 20% — was about three percentage points less than in April's primary.

Blacks represented 55% of votes cast, whites 45%, Rigamer said. Each candidate drew about one-fifth crossover support. […]]

| Update: This is what caught my eye today in Ann M. Simmons' Los Angeles Times article "In New Orleans, 'Opportunity'"

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