With less than three months until Election Day, Republicans and Democrats are stepping up efforts to court black voters — particularly in the South, where some of the country’s most competitive races are underway.
“If we work like dogs day in, day out — instead of getting 6% of black votes across the country … we can do a lot better,” Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, told a group of black journalists earlier this summer. “That’s our goal.”
Democrats, meanwhile, say they’re on a mission to gin up their base for the critical midterm elections. Traditionally, blacks tend to vote for Democratic candidates.
“We need to be out there early and often and constantly,” said Mo Elleithee, communications director for the Democratic National Committee. “We can’t ever become a party that just shows up and knocks on your door every four years.”
Both parties have set up field offices in key states, hired staffers to target minority voters and created armies of volunteers to knock on doors and urge voters to show up at the polls. In some competitive battlegrounds like Louisiana, the effort started last year.
But Howard University political scientist Lorenzo Morris called the efforts “symbolic outreach” unlikely to spur high black voter turnout during this non-presidential election.
“I don’t think the effort has anything more than what I would call a material interest, and it’s a naive one,” Morris said.
Still, he said, Democrats and Republicans “need those numbers.”
Morris and other political experts say black voter turnout could be a major factor in races in the South, particularly in Louisiana, where Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is fending off a challenge from her leading Republican opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Source: USA Today | Deborah Barfield Berry, Gannett Washington Bureau