He led in every poll, and just got walloped. Early reports point to low turn-out among blacks:
While hard numbers were not yet available late Tuesday, long time observers in Davis' camp said Sparks' victory appears to have been achieved, at least in part, because of low voter turnout among blacks who, unlike two years ago when they showed up in big numbers to vote for Barack Obama, showed no such enthusiasm for Davis on Tuesday.
I find this framing interesting. The underlying premise seems to be that Davis was somehow entitled to black votes. This despite the fact, as Michael Tomasky points out, that Davis reps a majority black district where one in five people lack health-care, but voted against the health care bill. You don't get to just stand in front the people and say "Hey I'm black and smart" and then wait for the torrent of civic pride.
Excuse the rant. What I'm really interested in is thoughts from folks who are in Alabama. Anyone know what happened here? Was there any kind of Bradley Effect? Did black voters decide to skip the primary? Any observations from the street?
UPDATE: Ange, in comments, smartly points us to Ed Kilgore over at FiveThirtyEight:
Sparks seems to have beaten Davis by pulling a significant (perhaps 40% or more) minority of African-American voters while trouncing him among white voters. Sparks carried Jefferson County (Birmingham) handily, although Davis represents a big chunk of the county, and ran well even in majority-African-American counties in or near Davis' district. The CW tomorrow will probably be that Davis thought far too much about positioning himself for the general election before concentrating on the primary, and that Sparks' uncontested claim on endorsements by African-American political groups was a big deal after all. It didn't hurt that the winner also got considerable help from the Alabama Education Association, the big dog in Alabama Democratic politics, and had a substantive issue--a state lottery--that's always played well with Alabama Democrats, particularly black voters.