In no particular order:

  • Blacks will support black Republican candidates under certain conditions

Blacks gave Steele in Maryland 30% of their vote.   Three times more than the black average.  The reason support for black republican candidates hasn’t been higher in the modern past is because the modern black republican veers so far to the right on economic issues that it is difficult for blacks to support them without buying into racism.  Steele stands out from his previous counterparts by his willingness to deal with black communities on their own terms.  Now inevitably his lack of policy prescriptions hurt him, but this is still a good day.

  • Whites will support black candidates even in the South under certain conditions.

Ford lost to Coker in Tennessee (both were running for the seat vacated by Senator Frist), but only by 2%.  We’ve progressed enough where someone like Ford, who to be fair is both very conservative for a Democrat and also exceedingly fair-skinned, can garner votes not only from white liberals, but also from white racial conservatives.  Now this could be a function of the context–the throw the bums out rhetoric may have resounded so much with white voters that it didn’t matter.

And we now have a black governor of Massachusetts…though to be far Massachusetts has a decent history there.

  • Racialized campaign ads still do damage

I believe that the ad that did Ford in was racist, though some of my colleagues disagree.  But see it for yourself.  Tali Mendelberg’s work indicates that the best way to respond to this type of ad is to condemn it directly.  Ford ends up losing undecideds at a rate of 3-1.  I think the ad was crucial here.

  • Affirmative Action still riles white voters

Proposal 2 which bans Affirmative Action in college admissions, hiring, and contracts in Michigan passed by a significant margin.   This shouldn’t come as any surprise.  Michigan will likely find a work around–a number of straightforward options come to mind.   But expect a lot of short term hand wringing.  When I was there in undergrad there were about 700 of us.   Now there are around 4 times as much.   I expect the numbers to fall back to 700, probably less.