Stephen Cohen Wins

There’s only one white person representing a majority black congressional district and apparently he’ll be around a bit longer:

With 59% of precincts reporting, Cohen leads by a whopping 79%-20%. This result so far seems identical to last cycle’s Dem primary, in which the incumbent Cohen faced a challenge that not only centered around race, but also featured seemingly anti-Semitic attacks against him.

As we’d noted earlier, Herenton had focused his campaign around race, arguing that Tennessee’s currently all-white Congressional delegation should have a black member from this majority African-American district. He even made such statements as telling the voters to “come off that Cohen plantation and get on the Herenton freedom train.”

There’s something odd about the presumption of two Cohen opponents in a row that black voters won’t pull the lever for a black guy. As is memorably observed in The Wire African-Americans have spent essentially their entire lives voting for white candidates — John Kerry, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, etc. going back as far as you like. Even those black voters who live in majority-minority House districts have cast tons of votes for white candidates for Senator, Governor, Lieutenant-Governor and other statewide offices. Most white people have little experience voting for black candidates, but all black people who vote have voted for many, many white candidates. Race-conscious voting obviously exists in the African-American community (we certainly saw it in the Clinton-Obama primary) but it’s much less prevalent than in the white community and it shows in Cohen’s lopsided margin of victory.