The Plan (Washington, D.C.)In the New York Times today, columnist Tom Edsall updates us on the steady progress of The Plan in D.C. and other desirable cities:
In Washington, D.C., The Plan is a conspiracy theory regarding governance of the city. Theorists insist that some whites have had a plan to “take back” the city since the beginning of home rule in the 1970s, when the city started electing blacks to local offices. The theory has quiet, but considerable support.
The Changing Face of Urban PowerA friend has pointed out how brilliantly the Obama Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing plan to disperse urban blacks to the suburbs is calibrated to solve problems currently impeding the triumphal progress of the Democrats to ruling nationally a one party state in the manner of a giant Chicago. I’ll return to that topic in the future.
Thomas B. Edsall JUNE 30, 2016
Black political power is declining in cities across the country, including Oakland, St. Louis, Cleveland and Atlanta — even as African-Americans are gaining majority status in an increasing number of suburbs.
At the same time, African-American emigration to the South has started to weaken Republican control of some deep red states.
Let’s start with Washington, D.C. The shift there (as elsewhere) is driven both by gentrification and by a black movement away from urban centers.
In 1957, Washington became the first large city in the United States to become majority African-American. In 1973, Congress gave home rule to the District. The first mayoral election was held in 1974, and Walter Washington, who had been appointed to the position in 1967, won it. He was the first of a series of black mayors that has continued to this day.
One area of Washington’s politics — campaign money — is already dominated by whites and has been for a long time. …
In the report, McElwee argues that
“The fact that big donors — overwhelmingly white, male and high-income — hold such outsized influence in a city that is extremely diverse both demographically and economically is deeply problematic.”
White voters in Washington already wield significant power in the city’s elections. In 2014, Muriel Bowser, an African-American reform candidate, defeated Vincent Gray, the African-American incumbent — who was accused of campaign finance violations but exonerated after the election — by winning decisive majorities in predominantly white wards.
… Over the past 15 years, the District has experienced both an exodus of black residents and an influx of whites. Young, well-educated whites are moving into once minority, often depopulated and dilapidated neighborhoods, where new condo and rental apartment construction is booming.
The black share of Washington’s population fell from a high of 71.1 percent in 1970 to 48.3 percent as of July 2015. … If only non-Hispanic whites are counted, the white share has grown to 36.1 percent.
Hispanics, who are likely to hold the balance of political power between whites and blacks, have grown from 2.1 percent of the District’s population in 1970 to 10.6 percent in 2015. Asian-Americans have gone from 0.7 percent to 4.2 percent over the same period.
In terms of political power, the more important numbers are those for city residents who are at least 18 and eligible to vote. William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, provided The Times with calculations based on July 2015 census data. It shows that non-Hispanic whites made up 39.2 percent of eligible voters and blacks 44.6 percent; Hispanics are at 9.7 percent and Asian-Americans at 4.5 percent.
While these percentages still give African-Americans a plurality of the District population, turnout patterns in off-year local elections in which the mayor is chosen serve to weaken black voting strength. …
The 2014 election marked the first time when the number of black voters was eclipsed by the number of all other voters, including whites, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. As Paul Schwartzman and Ted Mellnik of the Washington Post wrote:
“A surge of young, mainly white voters living in newly affluent neighborhoods emerged as a powerful force in last November’s elections in the District, a seismic shift that mirrors the evolution of the city’s population and could reshape its politics in years to come.”
… In the event of a future racially polarized Democratic mayoral primary pitting a major black candidate against a major white candidate, Hispanics would be in a position to determine the outcome. …
There are some indications of how Hispanic voters might cast their ballots. The February 1989 Chicago mayoral primary provides perhaps the most relevant case study.
Richard M. Daley, who is white, challenged Eugene Sawyer, the black incumbent. In that contest, Daley won Hispanic voters 83-15.
Separately, Yanna Krupnikov and Spencer Piston, political scientists at Stonybrook and Syracuse Universities, found that “the level of racial prejudice” is as high among Latinos as it is for non-Hispanic whites.
In an email, Piston wrote that the “findings constitute suggestive evidence” that in a white vs. black election, Hispanics could provide “a victory for the white candidate, because Latinos tend to view whites more favorably than blacks.” …
Despite the particular demographic profile of the District, the population trends in Washington are emblematic of shifts taking place in a number of major cities.
… The black population of Atlanta has been falling steadily, from 61.6 percent of the city in 2000 to 52.4 percent in 2014. …
The black share of the population has also begun to decline in cities ranging from Boston and New York on the East Coast to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland on the West Coast.
The geographic movement of African-Americans will produce a shift in black political power from some cities to surrounding suburbs and to states in the South.