27 November 2018

Race And The Mississippi Senate Race Runoff Results

The Results

Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican won the runoff election for the U.S. Senate held today in Mississippi.

The results in the runoff election for U.S. Senate in Mississippi:

Cindy Hyde-Smith*Republican453,46854.0%
Mike EspyDemocrat386,42446.0
839,892 votes, 97% reporting (1,737 of 1,797 precincts)
* Incumbent

In the first round, the results were:

Cindy Hyde-Smith*Republican368,53641.5%
Mike EspyDemocrat360,11240.6
Chris McDanielRepublican146,01316.5
Tobey BarteeDemocrat12,7071.4

Thus, Hyde-Smith gained 12.5 percentage points, compared to 16.5% of the vote won by Republican Chris McDaniel in the first round. Naively, this suggests that about 24% of Chris McDaniels voters (almost one in four) favored Mike Espy instead of Cindy Hyde-Smith, assuming that all Tobey Bartee voters in the first round supported Espy in the second round.

On the other hand, while the vote totals aren't quite all in from this race yet, Republican voter turnout is about 63,000 votes less than it was in the first round, while Democratic voter turnout was up by about 13,600 (presumably mostly McDaniels voters). So, many McDaniels voters either voted for Espy or abstained from voting entirely, rather than vote for Hyde-Smith.

So, rather than voting for the Democrat, it appears that many Chris McDaniels supporters simply abstained from voting in the runoff election all together.

One of the reasons to prefer actual runoff elections like this one to "instant runoff voting' is that it gives voters a chance to contemplate their second choices more seriously, with more information now that the choice is real, something that doesn't necessarily happen to the same extent when the second choice decisions are merely hypothetical.

But, while some McDaniels voters clearly were unwilling to vote for openly racist, neo-Confederate Cindy Hyde-Smith, in this election, it wasn't enough to make a difference.

Race and Political Affiliation In Mississippi

Mississippi is about 37% black and about 4% Hispanic. In Mississippi, both of these groups overwhelmingly favor Democrats, while whites overwhelmingly favor Republicans, a phenomena sometimes called "racial block voting" in political science and election law circles.

Compared to the national averages, blacks in Mississippi are a bit more likely to be Democrats (the national average is about 90%), and whites in Mississippi are much more likely to be Republicans (the national average is about 55%), than in the nation as a whole.

Almost all of the people who voted for Espy in the first round were black or Hispanic. Roughly 88% of the voters who voted for Democrat Mike Espy in the second round were black or Hispanic, and almost all black and Hispanic voters who voted, voted for Espy each time. Actually, it was probably a bit less than that in both cases, because not every single black or Hispanic voter voters for the Democrat. It is also a bit less than that in the second case, because voter turnout in Mississippi is probably a little bit lower for blacks and Hispanics as a percentage of the voting age population than for whites, both due to felony disqualification from voting in Mississippi, lack of U.S. citizenship among Hispanics, and from lower voter turnout among those blacks and Hispanics who are eligible to vote.

Many of the whites who voted for Espy (who is black) in the second round (indeed, probably most of them) voted for McDaniels or Bartee in the first round, but couldn't stomach voting for openly racist and neo-Confederate Hyde-Smith (who, notably, started her political career as a Democrat, where her views made her unwelcome) in the second round.

It is also almost certain that whites who voted for Espy in the runoff election were disproportionately mainline Christians, and were even more disproportionately non-religious.

Almost all of the voters voting for Cindy Hyde-Smith were white, and roughly 92% of white voters voted for Cindy Hyde-Smith in the second round (probably a modest overestimate on both counts for the same reasons, but not far from the truth).

It is also almost certain that whites who voted for Hyde-Smith in the runoff election were disproportionately Evangelical Christians (which means significant more than 69% of Hyde-Smith voters were white Evangelical Christian Republicans).

In most of the U.S. there is a strong gender gap, with women more likely to vote Democratic, and men more likely to vote Republican. But, racial block voting in Mississippi tends to mute this gender gap, and the fact that Hyde-Smith is a woman running against a male opponent also tends to mute this gender gap. So, it isn't obvious, in the absence of exit polling, how much of a gender gap, if any, there was in this U.S. Senate election.

The Other Senate Race In Mississippi This Year

Mississippi actually had two U.S. Senate races this year, one an ordinary race and one to fill a vacancy. The Republican in the other race won 58.8% of the first round vote, almost the same percentage that voted for any Republican in the race that has now entered a runoff. This again illustrates that about 8% of white Mississippians who would normally vote Republican did not support Hyde-Smith.

Roger Wicker*Republican517,47558.8%
David BariaDemocrat344,22539.1
Danny BedwellLibertarian12,1481.4
Shawn O'HaraReform5,5410.6

Religion in Mississippi

The overwhelmingly Republican whites in Mississippi are atypical of the nation in their religious affiliations as well.

Mississippi has the lowest percentage of Roman Catholics of any U.S. state (4%), about two-third or more of whom are Hispanic (the white Catholic population of Mississippi is on the order of 1%). Mississippi also has very few Mormons (0.73%). It has a negligible percentage of Jewish adherents (about 0.1%).

Mississippi also has a low proportion of mainline Christians, excluding historically black denominations (12% of  the population, of whom two-thirds are mainline Christian Baptists or Methodists, and some of whom are not white) to white Evangelical Christians (41% of the population, mostly Baptists or non-denominational Evangelical Christians).

About 15% of the population of Mississippi is not religious (the largest non-Protestant population in the state), and about two-thirds of them are neither atheists nor agnostics, while about 5% are atheists or agnostics (roughly equal to the percentage of the population of Mississippi that is religious but not Protestant Christian).

About 69% of whites in Mississippi are Evangelical Christians. About 3% of whites are Roman Catholic or Mormon. The rest are almost all either non-religious or mainline Christians, probably about 12% mainline Christian and 16% non-religious. The atheist and agnostic proportion of non-religious whites is probably a bit more than a third. The last two percentages, however, involve some guesswork.

Blacks in Mississippi are mostly (about 70%+), adherents of historical black Protestant denominations (mostly Baptist), with the remainder being mainline Christians (about 12%) or non-religious (about 14%). The atheist and agnostic proportion of blacks is probably a bit less than a third. These percentages, however, involve some guesswork.

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