Most remarkably, to date the 2014 Shreveport’s mayor race has refused to play to form, but it probably will do so in its last stage.
As the year began, state Rep. Patrick Williams was maneuvering to become a fusionist candidate between races and major parties to position himself as the main opposition to forces behind Mayor Cedric Glover, whose ally City Councilman Sam Jenkins appeared poised to represent those forces. No white candidate then appeared emergent to rally Republican votes against these black Democrats.
But then Jenkins made what turned out to be a temporary suspension of his campaign, and elites connected to Glover’s city hall appeared to coalesce around former Caddo Parish School District Superintendent Ollie Tyler. Meanwhile, as many Republicans remained sanguine about putting up a candidate in the wake of the miserable showing their favored candidate had four years previously, the independent and political novice Victoria Provenza stepped into the void.
Thus, the script was supposed to go like this: Tyler would inherit from the late-entering and neutered Jenkins the Glover cabal based among black Democrats, Provenza would attract white and Republican votes, and Williams would try to create a winning coalition from anti-Glover black Democrats and enough whites and Republicans. And then nothing went according to script.
An analysis of the 105 Caddo non-split precincts for the city by race and party registration shows why Tyler won a dominant 43 percent of the vote and Provenza edged out Williams for the runoff. For his fusionist coalition to succeed, Williams needed to come close to matching Tyler in black vote and do better than her among the white and Republican segments. He accomplished none of that: in the 21 precincts where at least 94 percent of the registrants were black, Tyler doubled up on his number with 60 percent of that vote, while among the five that were at least 94 percent white registration, she slightly better than doubled him up with 27 percent of that vote. For her part, Provenza got about 53 percent of the vote in the near-all-white precincts, but only 1 percent in the near-all-black precincts.
Analyzing proportion of the vote by proportions of white and black registrants and of Democrats and Republican registrants, the equations were the same for the Williams and Tyler votes: the lower the proportion of whites and the higher the proportion of Republicans, the higher the proportion of the vote each received – black and Democrat proportions where being split almost solely by them, so these exhibited no relationship with their vote proportions. These significant relationships are expected when a fusionist coalition is being built – except that Tyler did a better job of getting more such votes within and across the racial spectrum. In the final analysis, she proved to be the genuine fusionist candidate, which may have been telegraphed in the weeks leading up to the election by the patternsof donors to each campaign.
The analysis of Provenza’s vote showed her proportion varied with all four variables significantly, where by precinct that rose as did the proportions of whites and blacks and where the proportions of Democrats and Republicans fell. Keeping in mind each of these relationships is observed holding the other three factors constant, this means she tended to get disproportionately those less attached to the major political parties, including white Democrats who normally vote Republican, and from other races. It appears many Republicans threw in their lots with Tyler or Williams, especially the former.
Which signals that Tyler serves as the prohibitive favorite in the December runoff. Already besting Provenza by 18 points in the general election, she is likely to go well over 60 percent by winning almost every black vote and a noticeable chunk of the white vote. Whether the latter will be higher than in the general election is uncertain – chances are turnout won’t be too much lower given the heated U.S. Senate contest at the top of the ballot, but Williams’ white and Republican support might be too disillusioned to support his main rival in a runoff – but it should be more than adequate to carry her to victory.
One truism did prevail in this campaign: the candidate that did the best job of constructing a fusionist grouping would win. Tyler looks likely to turn out to be that candidate.