Despite election problems in Democratic-voter rich Hinds County, Brandon Presley did not delay his concession speech to incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves on the night of Nov. 7.
Reeves has not been as quick in the past to accept election results. In 2020, Reeves cast doubt on the loss by Republican incumbent President Donald Trump despite more than 60 court cases, many decided by judges appointed by Trump, validating the election and despite the election results being confirmed by numerous Republican state officials throughout the country.
Still, Reeves and other Mississippi election officials argued that the election was not secure and fair in states Trump lost, even though those states operated under the same rules as states that Trump won.
On social media in 2020, Reeves said: “a safe and fair election here in Mississippi — not upended by last minute schemes to radically alter voting methods. Election integrity is vital.”
Just as the math — and remember, Reeves says he is “a numbers guy” — confirmed Trump’s defeat in 2020, the math also confirmed Presley’s loss on Nov. 7.
Presley could have cited Hinds County election problems as a reason not to concede. But he did not. And that has proven to be the right decision.
Even if the Democrat Presley had garnered the level of support in Hinds County as Barack Obama did in 2012, he still would not have had enough votes to defeat Reeves.
In 2012, Obama received 76,112 votes in Hinds County — the most ever for a candidate there — in his successful presidential reelection campaign. On Nov. 7, Presley won 54,006 votes in Hinds County — 22,106 votes less than Obama garnered in 2012. Reeves defeated Presley by 26,619 votes, meaning an Obama level of support in Hinds would not have put Presley over the top statewide.
The vote in Hinds County is important for a couple of reasons.
First of all, it is the state’s largest county and by far the biggest base of support for Democrats.
Second of all, there were numerous election problems in Hinds County on Nov. 7. Multiple precincts — at least eight, reportedly — ran out of ballots. There were reports of people leaving after waiting in lines for hours and, in some cases, not being able to vote at all.
It is difficult to believe that Presley, despite his and his team’s effort to get supporters to the polls, could have outdistanced the turnout Obama received in 2012. It was a watershed year in terms of turnout for Mississippi Democrats.
Granted, if Presley got all the votes that Obama received in Hinds County in 2012 and Reeves did not garner all the votes that Republican Mitt Romney won that year in Hinds County, there would have been a runoff election. Remember, Obama got 22,106 votes more than Presley in Hinds County. Presley came up only 15,466 votes short of what was needed to force a runoff. But it is unlikely to believe that Presley could match Obama numbers in Hinds County for a number of reasons, including the fact the county has lost significant population since 2012. The U.S. Census Bureau reported Hinds had a 4.4 % population loss during just a two-year period from 2020 to 2022. Numerous studies highlight much larger losses since 2010.
We will never know for sure how many people did not vote in Hinds County because of the election problems, but it is safe to say the numbers were not enough to cost Presley the election or even the chance of a runoff.
It also should be pointed out that the people running the elections in Hinds County are locally elected Democrats. The problems that occurred were unfortunate. But it is reasonable to assume they were not intentionally sabotaging Presley.
Going back a few years, it can be and has been mathematically proven that local Democratic officials did cost Democratic nominee Al Gore the White House in 2000.
The infamous butterfly ballot was designed by Democrats and used in Democratic-controlled Palm Beach County Florida. In that county, many people — 15,000 or more — thought they were voting for Gore, but accidentally voted for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan because of the confusing design of the ballot or voted for both Gore and Buchanan causing the ballot to be disqualified.
In an interview just after the election, Buchanan admitted, “When I took one look at that ballot on election night … it’s very easy for me to see how someone could have voted for me in the belief they voted for Al Gore.”
Gore lost Florida and thus the White House by 537 votes.
Despite that math, Gore conceded.
Presley did the same on Nov. 7.
Reeves and other Mississippi elected officials did not in 2020.
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