If you were looking to disprove the view that campaigns are primarily about how well the economy is doing and whether objective conditions are getting better or worse, you couldn't do much better than Adrian Fenty's loss last night. The Post's amazing tick-tock of his terrible campaign makes a pretty good case that campaigns -- or at least some minimal interest in what the voters are thinking -- matter for reelection. Though as someone who trends towards structuralist explanations, I'd also like to see some analysis of how demographics and racial tensions shaped the outcome. Despite the two major candidates both being African American, there was a whole lot of race in this campaign.Of course the Washington Post wants to paint the loss as the result of stumbles by Fenty. First, it's the WaPo - that's the narrative they push for every race. Second, it's the WaPo and they are unabashed Fenty apologists. Framing the election any other way would necessitate an acknolwdgement that some people just didn't think Fenty was a good Mayor.
But what really bothers me here is that Klein writes as if everything were just fine and dandy in D.C. In reality, the district has a 12.5% unemployment rate and 34.5% unemployment rate for African-Americans. If you handed Ezra these raw numbers for an incumbent urban Mayor and provided no other context I have to think that Klein would guess the incumbent was in trouble.
Your damn straight there was racial tension, 34.5% unemployment for African-Americans is APPALLING. It doesn't matter that Fenty is African-American if the African-American community in D.C. feels that they are being left behind.