The sharp surge in black turnout that Senator Barack Obama has helped to generate in recent primaries and Congressional races could signal a threat this fall to the longtime Republican dominance of the South, according to politicians and voting experts.
...[I]n Southern states with large black populations, like Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia, an energized black electorate could create a countervailing force, particularly if conservative white voters choose not to flock to Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee. Merle Black, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, predicts “the largest black turnout in the history of the United States” this fall if Mr. Obama is the nominee.
To hold these states, Republicans may have to work harder than ever. Already, turnout in Democratic primaries this year has substantially exceeded Republican turnout in states like Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Some analysts suggest that North Carolina and Virginia may even be within reach for the Democratic nominee, and they point to the surprising result in a Congressional special election in Mississippi this week as an indicator of things to come.
With the strong support of black voters, a conservative white Democrat, Travis W. Childers, scored an upset victory in that race, in a district held by Republicans since 1995. Kelvin Buck, a black state representative who helped the Childers campaign, said he saw a “level of enthusiasm and energy” that he had not seen before from black voters — significantly motivated, he said, by a recent Republican anti-Obama campaign.
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