THE STOKES FORMULA IN CLEVELAND
The Stokes story in Cleveland was that the first Black mayor of a large American city polled fewer Black votes in 1969 running against County Auditor Ralph J. Perk -- a White Republican -- than he did in 1967, but nevertheless managed to increase his narrow overall plurality. The key was Stokes's ability to increase his small share of White support by some five percentage points between the two elections while holding the almost total backing (97 per cent) of Black voters who came to the polls. That combination gave him a winning margin of 3,753 in 1969 as against 1,679 two years before.
One could take a pessimistic view of the fact that a man who had become a national figure, who was a Democrat in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans eight to one, who was a personable candidate endorsed by both local newspapers, who enjoyed the backing of the downtown business establishment, and who focused his public statements on biracial cooperation, managed to capture only 5,000 additional White voters between the two elections. The crucial character of this shift is underlined by the fact that had Stokes merely duplicated his 1967 run in all White wards, he would have lost in 1969.
The racial solidarity among Blacks for a Black mayor concealed the absence of any conspicuous effect of his political