Crisler Could Benefit from Low Turnout | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Crisler Could Benefit from Low Turnout

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Jackson City Councilman Marshand Crisler will be one of several mayoral candidates on the panel at Millsaps College tonight.

Jackson's historical voting patterns suggest Councilman Marshand Crisler could have the upper hand in the run-off if minorities stay true to form and stay home May 19. The municipal run-off for mayor hasn't been this close in recent memory: Hinds County election results show Democratic candidate and former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. with a maddeningly close lead of 9,380 votes to Crisler's 9,097 votes, a difference of less than 1 percent. Even though Crisler trailed Johnson in precinct victories, winning about 30 precincts to Johnson's 50, Crisler rallied among the city's white voters, with huge majorities in predominantly white precincts.

Precinct numbers reveal a strong racial divide, with Johnson winning small majorities in the most precincts, like black-dominated Precinct 41, at Green Elementary School, in the Hanging Moss area, which delivered 278 votes Crisler's 99. However, polling areas like St. Phillips Episcopal Church, on Old Canton Road in Northeast Jackson, delivering impressive majorities for Crisler, giving the Ward 6 Councilman 453 votes, compared to 50 votes for Johnson. Crisler did well in other white-dominated area codes, such as the precinct at Belhaven College, which allotted 218 votes for Crisler and 63 votes for Johnson. The precinct at Fondren Presbyterian Church was equally unbalanced with 188 votes for Crisler, but only 12 votes for Johnson.

Local voting trends suggest, however, that Crisler will do well in the run-off, if support between the candidates remains an unbalanced incline between white and black voters.

"There's a specific drop-off in the run-offs," said Jackson Democratic Municipal Executive Committee Chairman Claude McInnis. "It's astounding how significant a drop-off, and it is definitely more profound in certain areas, in black areas like the smaller precincts and the inner cities. I don't know if it's because we black people feel we've done our thing, and it doesn't matter after the first vote or what, but we've racked our brains trying to figure out how to make people come back for the run-offs."

Brad Chism, company president of Zata3 polling, in Washington, D.C., said the drop-off in voter participation is more accurately defined along the lines of education, rather than race.

"Income and education are greater predictors of likelihood to vote than race," Chism said. "The more educated and more affluent you are, the more likely you are to vote, regardless of race. You need to take care not to reduce this to issues of black and white. It's more about education and income than race."

The line between the undereducated/under-employed and well-educated/affluent is largely divided along city regions, however, with more affluent populations residing along the northern and southernmost reaches of the city.

The most recent—and stark—examples of a plummet in voting for the under-educated sections of the city include the 2005 Democratic election and subsequent Democratic run-off in the city council races of primarily black Wards 4 and 5. The May 3, 2005, Democratic election for Ward 4 revealed a total of 2,657 votes for challenger Frank Bluntson and 2,406 votes for incumbent Democrat Bo Brown. Voting dropped considerably in the May 17 run-off election, with Brown getting only 603 votes to Bluntson's 1,744 votes. The Ward 5 vote during the May 3 election got 1,771 votes for incumbent Bettye Dagner-Cook and 1,084 votes for challenger Charles Tillman. Votes petered off in the following run-off, however, with Dagner-Cook collecting 845 votes to Tillman's 903 votes. Run-off voting in the two wards dropped by 54 and 39 percent, respectively.

Chism said the run-off is easily determined by a politician's ability to get feet on the ground on Election Day.

"They have to ensure that their previously identified supporters show up the second time," Chism explained. "It's a financial challenge. It's not cheap, and both candidates will need strategies to drive turn-out."

If Chism's arguments are true, the city's more affluent occupants in Ward 1—who happen to be primarily white—will give Crisler an advantage, despite his earning fewer votes than Johnson in the May 3 primary. However, Johnson still benefits from the votes of his home ward, Ward 2, second only to Ward 1 in terms of political affluence and education level, according to Ward 2 Councilman Leslie McLemore. Johnson could also stand to benefit from a host of councilman run-off elections in majority black areas of the city, including Wards 2, 4, 5, and 6. A run-off was all but quashed in Ward 1 because the Republican challenger to Ward 1 incumbent Jeff Weill dropped out of the race to allow Republicans in that ward to vote in the Democratic primary. Weill immediately endorsed Crisler for mayor.

"It was a smart political move on the part of Crisler to solicit and gain the support of the Republican who dropped out of the Ward 1 race and the endorsement of Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin, because that probably propelled him to the run-off," McInnis said. "I don't think Marshand would have been in the run-off had it not been for those two endorsements, because he was initially trailing in the polls."

In Jackson irun-off seals the election, said McInnis, who drew a comparison to the 2008 Hinds County race for District 1 commissioner.

Republican Marilyn Avery squared off in the Nov. 4, 2008, general election against two Democrats, Danny Ayers and Jean Lavine. Republican Avery claimed 9,314 votes, while Democrat Ayers claimed 6,661 votes and Lavine, 5,874 votes. However, Democratic voters—who arguably claim less education and lower wages, according to Chism—did not turn out for the Nov. 18 run-off. Their absence provided an advantage to Republican Avery with 2,694 votes to the surviving Democrat Ayers' 1,133 votes—despite the fact that Ayers and Lavine combined drew 12,535 Democratic votes in the general election. In the runoffs, 82.5 percent of those who voted in the general election didn't cast a second ballot.

"The truth is, there are some strategies out there to get people into the run-off because they know that their candidate probably will win if they make it up to that point," McInnis said. Political strategies say that can translate into a push by a candidate to increase their appeal to white voters because they believe more of them will turn out to vote in the run-off.

Chism said he will place no money bets on the winner this time around, considering all the factors influencing the race. He says the Jackson race this year is closer than races he's observed in the past.

"Four years ago, Melton won handily, four years before that, Johnson won re-election handily, four years before that Johnson handily defeated the incumbent mayor. Four years before that, Ditto handily defeated the incumbent mayor. This year it will be a cliff-hanger, and the city doesn't usually get those," Chism said.

"It could break heavily over the weekend, but I have no way of knowing."

Previous Comments

ID
147496
Comment

still surprised you're using a 10 year photo of marshand in this picture. it's kind of a tacky thing to do. you've had plenty of time to correct it since original posting. the excuse of being the only file photo you had is quite lame.

Author
FriendsofJackson
Date
2009-05-17T08:58:31-06:00
ID
147498
Comment

Friends, you're talking about the photo above? What in heaven's name is wrong with that photo!?! This is a different one than Crisler's campaign manager wrote a JFP salesperson and Adam Lynch about last week, demanding that we change it. She said that one was really, really old, when it was taken last year! And the one of Johnson that ran next to it was several years old, from he was mayor, but we haven't heard any complaints out of them over trivia. Imagine! Then, of course, the campaign manager would not return my e-mail, nor has she returned any phone calls from me. She just complains, no demands, to people here who do not make those kinds of decisions—and over absolute trivia. Is this what we have to look forward to for four years under Mayor Crisler??? We've just went through this kind of defensive, petty garbage for four years, Friends. We don't have any 10-year-old photos of Crisler. We've only been in existence for seven years, and I'm sure that photo is much more recent than that. As if it frickin' matters. And there is nothing to "correct." Political campaigns do not tell newspapers what photos to run, and we use various photos from our archives all the time for public figures. Good golly, can y'all talk about something REAL?!? We're drowning in pettiness here. Every time y'all attack us for something trivial, you are lowering our expectations for the candidate. I will ask it again: Is Crisler in control of his own campaign?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-05-17T09:17:02-06:00
ID
147552
Comment

actually, i was posting under the thread "Race Leavves Mark in Mayoral Race" - which still has the photo of Crisler with an Afro. I have no idea how my comment showed up in this particular thread. I made a comment about it because i had been directed by an email notice that there had been a need post under that thread, went to it, and saw the old afro photo. Obviously, there's some technical issues with the JFP website, since my post was under that thread, clearly and only because of the afro photo. And, it DOES frickin' matter when you attempt to show one candidate in a more negative light than another. Or, when you do it and don't intentionally do it and then get so "frickin" defensive about. Geez, Donna, chill. Sorry, i forgot, you don't take criticism well. Or, perhaps at all. It seems lately that everybody who differs with you (at least on the mayor's race) is "petty", "trivial" or has some ulterior motive. Please, just take it for what it is. I was on the site. I saw the photo. It struck me as the same characterization as the Wilson Carroll flyer. Since Crisler's younth is an issue, showing this photo that some folks (perhaps more conservative white folks) might find offensive because of the subtle message of militancy, is kind of low class, in my mind. It may not have been intended. You may not see it. But just about everybody i've talked to that reads JFP on line has commented on it. Again, i know you don't take criticism well, but the photo (whether it's 7 years old or 10 frickin' years old) is still on your website. and it is still inappropriate, in my opinion. I trust that you respect my right to my opinion and my idea of how significant it is. Of course you may disagree, but why would you belittle me for my opinion and treat me as if i'm stupid because, in my opinion, i place some significance on this issue. This has very little to do with crisler, in my mind, any more. it has everything to do, however, with whether or not JFP can live by its own standards. If you can't ever admit you are wrong, then there is truly something wrong. http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/index.php/site/comments/race_leaves_mark_in_mayoral_race_050809/

Author
FriendsofJackson
Date
2009-05-17T19:07:48-06:00
ID
147553
Comment

friendsofjackson why yall complaining yall want a young man to run jackson, so dont complain when jfp shows a picture of a young Crisler.

Author
NewJackson
Date
2009-05-17T19:16:07-06:00
ID
147557
Comment

Friends, you're bothered by a photo of Crisler "with an Afro" that was taken LAST YEAR? Yes, last year, Friends. I don't know if Crisler got a makeover this year for the campaign—I hadnt' really noticed a difference, and I just had to look closer to see said "Afro," by the way—but that photo was taken at an event LAST YEAR. Again, that photo is next to a photo of Johnson that is several years old. Oh, but let me guess: That must be a conspiracy to make Johnson look younger. Right, I got it. And "a suble message of militancy," for God's sake!?! He looks like a politican, or a high school teacher in that photo. He's not exactly wearing a black t-shirt, a beret and shaking a kill-whitey fist. Now, who's playing racial games, huh? I made a comment about it because i had been directed by an email notice that there had been a need post under that thread, went to it, and saw the old afro photo. What is a "need post"? I'm confused. Are you saying an e-mail went around telling people to go there and post? If so, I can guess who that came from. Sigh. CRISLER SUPPORTERS ONCE AND FOR ALL: CALM YOUR ASSES DOWN. THE JACKSON FREE PRESS IS NOT CHOOSING PHOTOS TO MAKE YOUR GUY LOOK BAD. LIKE WITH EVERY EDITORIAL STORY WE DO, WE PULL FILE PHOTOS AS NEEDED. WE DO NOT HAVE PHOTOS OF CRISLER FROM 10 YEARS AGO. WE WEREN'T HERE THEN. PEOPLE IN JACKSON KNOW WHAT HE LOOKS LIKE; WE'VE ALL BEEN WATCHING HIM IN ACTION SEVERAL YEARS. HE'S NOT GOING TO LOSE VOTES BECAUSE WE USED A 2008 PRE-CAMPAIGN PHOTO OF HIM. AND IT'S NOT UP TO THE CAMPAIGN TO CHOOSE OUR ARTWORK. THE WHINING IS UNPROFESSIONAL. IT'S PETTY. IT'S JUVENILE. STOP IT. AND, YES, I'M SHOUTING. SOME OF YOU PEOPLE ARE ACTING LIKE BABIES. THIS GARBAGE ISN'T MAKING PEOPLE FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOUR CANDIDATE. IT'S JUST DRAMA, PURE AND SIMPLE. With due respect. Deep breath. It really does seem like 2005 all over again. (Funny one, New Jackson. Two points.)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-05-17T19:51:17-06:00
ID
147748
Comment

The real truth is that Marshand is a little militant. I've attended Ward 6 meetings when I was a resident there and his whole message was militant in nature. He's very high-strung. Maybe it's the military training. Is the Marshand camp ashamed of his AFRO!! Geez!!

Author
GratefulJTE
Date
2009-05-19T11:22:00-06:00

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