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Y’all Need to Come and Get Your Boys (and Girls), 2017 Edition

So this is seriously worth talking about again. First, because the Jones campaign knew who they had to turn out — African Americans, young people, and a higher percentage of white people than usual. Not only did they get that done, but overperformed in turnout of whites from the Obama era. The majority of the turnout effort was focused on the African American community, which is the largest slice of the Dem base in Alabama. In this case, the choice was to focus on turning out your base — the people you know will vote for you — and carve out enough of other constituencies to get to 50+1.

This was also the case in Virginia, where African Americans also punched above their weight, and AA women came out for HRC. (In total the AA turnout was lower than for Obama, but women, in particular, voted for HRC way more consistently than the white women who were the focus of her campaign. Let’s also not forget that the majority of African Americans ID as Christians too.

And here we see that we need to figure this out. Why is it that white people are so ready to vote for candidates with the worst instincts? It might be identity politics, but it would be of the white supremacy variety.

Certainly in both the Virginia and Alabama cases, candidates were not running on a Not Trump platform. These candidates mainly focused on issues (and in VA focus on hyperlocal issues was a winner) like health care and employment and it was hard to find any of the non-commital straddling on positions so as to offend as few people as possible. In fact, the opposite was true — engaging these voters where they were built the relationships needed to get people out to the polls. Most of the folks who won were not the most progressive people out there, but they weren’t old school conservadems, either. Foa Alabama, there was a stealth turnout effort that included resources from the DNC and other groups and it seemed to get started just as the campaign was telling groups to send money, don’t come to Alabama. I’m going to be really interested in the details of this organizing effort.

So is there a way to reach white voters voting on their identity issues? Probably. But in the meantime, it is time to make sure that we are empowering and resourcing African American Dems AND centering their governing goals. It is also an even bigger reason for Dems to fight back on every bit of voter suppression being thrown at this community. This is still an unbelievably reliable Dem voting constituency who doesn’t get nearly as much TLC as they should get.

And no, showing up to church doesn’t count.

You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. -- Shirley Chisolm

6 comments on “Y’all Need to Come and Get Your Boys (and Girls), 2017 Edition

  1. Point of Order

    I have long held that the most critical failure in some states (that’s you, PA) was the failure to generate volume at the voting booth. This shouldn’t be dependent on the cycle. Areas with majority Dems need for those Dems to vote ALL THE TIME in each election. This is dependent on the local party and its organizational ability to know what it needs on the ground. It should know best where the money needs to be spent, and on what it should be spent. It wouldn’t hurt for more AA women to be in more positions within the Party to direct those resources.

  2. I keep reading this line:

    “the choice was to focus on turning out your base — the people you know will vote for you”

    This is how we win – get people who already agree with our policies to vote. Trying to convert voters who don’t really, maybe, sorta agree with us doesn’t mean they’ll vote D once they’re in the voting both. It’s great if they do, but we can’t change/alter/tweak our policies to win an unreliable vote. We can’t ignore our base, or worse, minimize their issues, to chase a voter who, in the end, may not vote for us for a variety of reasons.

    On Tuesday night, I couldn’t believe the AA turn-out numbers. They were astonishing; their message stronger than any white working class narrative. Every reporter, blogger, pundit should be writing/talking about this. This is how Dems win.

    Yes, there were a lot of moving parts in the Alabama race, but if we’re looking for a winning strategy, focusing on and getting out our base (especially AA women – who are the true base of the D party) is the key. We need candidates with an established relationship with the AA community, one who understands the specific problems and concerns of this community. Jones didn’t need to build a relationship with black voters, he had that relationship already. He had walked the talk. That mattered – just like it matters to all of us when it comes to candidates who only show up during election season talking talk.

    Virginia and Alabama showed us what can happen when AA voters are energized. And they accomplished this in Alabama with its rampant voter suppression. Fix voter suppression and my bet is that AA turn-out would be even higher. Fighting voter suppression should be our top priority. Policies won’t matter if people who want to vote for them can’t vote.

    • cassandram

      We need candidates with an established relationship with the AA community, one who understands the specific problems and concerns of this community.

      You know, most candidates who run in diverse areas do have relationships with the AA community. The real problem is that they aren’t especially attentive to the real needs of that community. You can see it in how Markell and Carney treat Wilmington schools. Making those schools functional is not as important as sending a message to the suburbs that you are imposing a tough regime on these folks. Not to single them out, but it would be hard to list what a bunch of legislators have done who ask for local AA votes to actually earn those votes.

  3. It would be nice if the debt whites owe to African Americans for saving us from the whims of the white majority would translate into more white support for Black Lives Matter.

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