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More Developments in South Carolina D-SEN Primary

The Greene-Rawl South Carolina US Senate Democratic primary continues to make news. This afternoon, the Rawl campaign held a press conference to announce they are filing a formal protest of the result. The South Carolina election board stands by the results. The Rawl campaign will also be meeting with officials in the South Carolina Democratic Party.

On the matter of Rawl’s protest, here is a story and below is the accompanying video from WCBD/Channel 2 News in Charleston on the Rawl press conference. Rawl campaign manager Walter Ludwig (full disclosure again: Ludwig is a friend) informs me that this is part of a larger media roll-out that includes appearances by Rawl on Keith Olbermann’s show tonight, Alan Colmes’ radio show, Fox News tomorrow morning, and Hardball with Chris Matthews tomorrow night.

In another development, the Greene=black theory of how Alvin Greene gained separation in what might otherwise have been a random vote split between two candidates–which I discussed in the second bullet point of my second post on this bizarre race–has taken a hit. Chris, that very smart reader at The Monkey Cage who produced those nice, precinct-level graphs, emailed to inform me that the actual racial distribution of the Greene surname undercuts this very point. I’m not sure if he wants to be identified by last name too, and until I hear otherwise from him, I’ll just call him “ChrisC.” But here’s what he wrote me:

I am really surprised that this hasn’t come up yet in all the discussion, but the Census produced a file that broke down last names by race (I can’t for the life of me find it online right now though). Per the 2000 Census, of people with the last name Greene, 70% were White and 25.5% were Black. It is more likely Black than the average last name, but I think people haven’t really talked about the first name Alvin might also be thought of as a “Black” first name (though as someone who has lived in the New York most my life I do realize Southerners tend to have more unusual names). As a test I ran the avg Black % by Census block of people with the first name Alvin in Erie County, NY (Buffalo area) and Long Island in both cases the avg census block % was about twice the overall population. Something interesting I thought I would share.

Ludwig adds–without sourcing, so I’m not sure who did the calculations he shared with me–that the surname Green (without the trailing “e”) is actually more likely to be black than white person.

I don’t know what to think about the Alvin first name advantage hypothesis. My goodness, how much crazier can this get? But if the surname distribution data is true, the random-walk-plus-ballot-order-plus-surname-signal theory of Alvin Greene’s victory would have to be reduced to random-walk-plus-ballot-order. And, as I’ve failed to mention here previously, but was discussed also in that John Sides post at The Monkey Cage, ballot order is normally expected to confer a slight advantage to the first name listed on a two-person ballot.

You mix in all the other stuff–over-votes in three counties in the GOP gubernatorial, the disparity between absentee and election day ballots, the weird circumstances surrounding the $10,000 filing fee paid by an unemployed man to enter a race he never campaigned to win–and I still think there’s something fishy here. It’s going to be very, very interesting to see how the South Carolina election board folks respond.

UPDATE: I did an interview with Nicole Sandler for her radio program about this. You can listen here.

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