Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Cardin's and O'Malley's Slightly Different Supporters

O'Malley and Cardin both swept to victory this past Tuesday. However, the exit polls indicate that they had some important differences in their bases related to the race and ethnic backgrounds of the candidates. While 84% of African-American voters voted for O'Malley, only 74% supported Cardin who was opposed by African-American Michael Steele. (One reader has suggested that the exit polls overstate black support for Steele; anyone else have thoughts or evidence on that question?)

On the other hand, while 48% of white voters supported Cardin, only 45% supported O'Malley. Some may suspect that Cardin's extra white votes came from white racists. On the contrary, it appears that Cardin gained extra support from Jewish voters, his ethnic base, just as Steele did better than African Americans usually do among black voters. Cardin won 84% of the Jewish vote, 10% more than received by O'Malley--Jews composed about 7% of the electorate.

Jewish voters are generally more liberal on racial issues than other white voters, so it seems unlikely that the higher support for Cardin was part of some sort of racial backlash. Indeed, Jewish Democrats probably played a large role in assuring that Ike Leggett, who is black, defeated Steve Silverman, who is Jewish, in the crucial Democratic primary for Montgomery County Executive. Leggett did quite well in many of the more heavily Jewish neighborhoods in the Democratic primary.