Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version

November 2006


Published in Politics & Policy, Volume 34, No. 4 (2006): 814-836. Published by Blackwell Publishing Inc. http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=1555-5623&site=1
Copyright © 2006 The Policy Studies Organization. Used by permission.


In 1997, Harvey Johnson made history by becoming the first black to be elected as mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. Four years prior, Johnson failed to make the Democratic primary runoffs. The following research question is addressed: what explains Johnson’s victory in 1997, when compared to his defeat in 1993? In answering this question, I rely heavily on elite-level interviewing and newspaper accounts. I also examine the black and white vote for Johnson, using aggregate-level election and census data. Gary King’s Ecological Inference technique is used to examine these data. Based on the findings, I conclude that Johnson ran a deracialized campaign in 1993 and a racialized campaign in 1997. The deracialized campaign failed to attract white voters and attenuated his black support. In 1997, however, he was able to almost double his support from black voters. This increase can be attributed in part to his racialized campaign strategy