Whatever the result of the election, and I think we will all be up late tonight, my observation is that regardless of who wins, Jackson will be setting a new course, much different from the one Mayor Johnson had charted during his terms. The old center has not held, and the voters have already expressed their eagerness to forge a new one. The tectonic plates, having ground against each other for these many years, are shifting, and by tomorrow morning we shall read in the results which one is ascendant and which is descendant.
This mayoral race has always been about whether or not the voters want to fire Mayor Johnson. My assessment has always been that while they are contemplating doing so, they first want to see what and who their alternatives are. Voters are essentially conservative by nature (not necessarily by politics), and the incumbent they know will often be preferable to an exciting or intriguing but ultimately unproven replacement ( See Mayor Melton). Usually, things have to be pretty bad for voters to make that decision to fire the incumbent. Statistically, at the federal level congressional incumbents get reelected at a 90% rate, and nationally the municipal rate is near 80%. As a study of incumbency in municipal elections in the United States puts it: “It is virtually always better to be an incumbent than a challenger in American elections.”