New Orleans Mayoral Vote Split On Racial Lines

AP, April 23, 2006

NEW ORLEANS—In a complete reversal of support from four years ago, Mayor Ray Nagin scored heavily with black voters and was practically abandoned by whites as he and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu won spots in a mayoral runoff election.

The black incumbent, who received most of his support from white voters in the 2002 election, garnered less than 10 percent of the vote Saturday in predominantly white precincts, according to GCR & Associates Inc., a consulting firm analyzing demographic data for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority.

But Nagin, who offended many white voters in January when he suggested God wanted New Orleans to remain a “chocolate city,” saw black voters rush to his defense. He received 65 percent or more of the vote in predominantly black neighborhoods, the consultant found.

Landrieu, who is white, finished with 29 percent of the overall vote to Nagin’s 38 percent. He finished second in black neighborhoods to Nagin and second in white neighborhoods to third-place finisher Ron Forman, bolstering his claims that he can help bring together diverse groups to help New Orleans emerge from the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina.

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The numbers suggest it will be a serious challenge for Nagin to broaden his support in time for the May 20 runoff.

“His one shot is to get enough of the whites who liked him four years ago to like him again,” said political analyst Elliott Stonecipher.

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