Pollster: Numbers would likely favor Herenton - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Pollster: Numbers would likely favor Herenton

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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Memphis pollster with a strong familiarity with Tennessee's District 9 said Wednesday that in a battle between Willie Herenton and Steve Cohen, voting patterns favor one man over the other.

Pollster Berje Yacoubian has tracked Mid-South politics 33 years.  According to him, of the 420,000 voters in District 9, 63% are African American.  Yacoubian says Congressman Steve Cohen would need twice as many African American voters as Mayor Willie Herenton would need Caucasian voters.

"The mayor can get 85% of the African American vote, get zero white votes, and still win the election by 52% of the vote," Yacoubian said.

Yacoubian noted that Herenton has won five out of five races, and is an expert at drawing district lines and putting together winning combinations of precincts and voters - specifically targeting swing shift voters.

"He will adjust his campaign to make sure that he focuses the campaign on those people only regardless of what everybody else thinks," Yacoubian said.

Yacoubian also anticipates a 50% voter turnout, because this wouldn't be the only popular race.

"We have a county mayor's race," he said. "We have a governor's primary.  Both strong primaries in the Republican and Democratic primaries."

So, who would pull off the win?

"The numbers favor Mayor Herenton," Yacoubian said. "If there is a second or third black candidate entering the race, which there probably will be, then the whole formula shifts.  Then, the odds shift back to Congressman Cohen."

Yacoubian said three other things would factor into the race:

  • Both Cohen and Herenton will have strong monetary reserves
  • They're both highly popular
  • They're both instant news makers, with the media at their fingertips to reach the masses.

Yacoubian believes it would be a fascinating race.

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