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Black voters aren't racist, either

Tom Jackson • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:27 PM

Yesterday, I explained why I don't buy the theory that most white voters are a bunch of racists.

But what about black voters? Do they automatically line up behind the black candidate?

You might be tempted to think so, if you've noticed that cities with a majority of black voters tend to elect black mayors.

But then again, white majority cities tend to elect white mayors.

But in any event, I looked at black voters, too.

And while I think it's true black voters tend to think about issues of race more than white voters -- what a surprise, considering this country's racial history -- I don't believe race is the only criteria they use in voting, or even the main one.

Consider the U.S. representative for Tennessee's 9th District, Steve Cohen.

Cohen is a white, Jewish congressman from a district that is 60 percent black (not to mention mostly Christian.)

He has a strong record of representing black issues in Congress. Despite that, his Democratic primary race drew national attention this year because his opponent was a black woman, Nikki Tinker.

Ms. Tinker campaigned essentially by arguing that a black-majority district should be represented by a black person. She got money for TV ads from Emily's List, a group that backs women candidates (and which apparently doesn't worry very much about whether the candidates are worth supporting.) Tinker used her Emily's List money to run ads stirring up racial animosity.

Remember, Tinker wasn't a minor candidate. She had enough money to get her message out.

How did that approach work out for Tinker?

Cohen won, 79 percent to 19 percent.

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