Majority-black, Democratic counties hurt most by bridge closures, analysis shows


The bridge crisis, which Republican leaders seek to address this week during a special session, disproportionately affects majority black counties and counties that typically vote more with Democrats than Republicans, according to a Mississippi Today analysis.
Republicans, who enjoy supermajorities in both the House and Senate and hold the governor’s office, have been meeting privately to determine how and if to send state funds to counties that cannot afford to reopen bridges that have been closed since April.
No black or Democratic legislators have been at the negotiating table this summer, according to key Democratic and black legislative leaders.
To understand the disparate impacts of these closures, Mississippi Today combined a map of bridge closures, which the state maintains, with county-level racial demographic and poverty data from the census. To determine if a majority of voters in a county supported the Democratic or Republican candidate in a recent high-turnout election, we looked at the results of the 2016 presidential election.
Key findings of our analysis include:
• Ten of the 15 counties with the most bridge closures per 10,000 people are majority African American (only 25 of Mississippi’s 82 counties are majority African American).
• Six of the 10 counties with the most closed bridges overall have majority African American populations.
• Eleven of the 15 counties with the most bridge closures per 10,000 people voted Democratic in the 2016 presidential election.
• Thirty-two of the 41 counties with the fewest closed bridges per 10,000 people voted Republican in 2016.
• Of the 15 Mississippi counties with no bridges closed, 13 voted Republican in 2016.
These data points are illustrated in the map below, where red and blue represent counties where a majority of voters supported Republican or Democratic candidates, respectively. The darker the shade of red or blue, the more people voted Republican or Democratic.
Yellow circles represent the