An internal election 2014 memo from Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher to the White House is both blunt and dismaying,and as NY Times political reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg details, the message is clear: black voters will make or break the Dems in 2014.
The confidential memo from a former pollster for President Obama contained a blunt warning for Democrats. Written this month with an eye toward Election Day, it predicted “crushing Democratic losses across the country” if the party did not do more to get black voters to the polls.
“African-American surge voters came out in force in 2008 and 2012, but they are not well positioned to do so again in 2014,” Cornell Belcher, the pollster, wrote in the memo, dated Oct. 1. “In fact, over half aren’t even sure when the midterm elections are taking place.”Mr. Belcher’s assessment points to an urgent imperative for Democrats: To keep Republicans from taking control of the Senate, as many are predicting, they need black voters in at least four key states. Yet the one politician guaranteed to generate enthusiasm among African Americans is the same man many Democratic candidates want to avoid: Mr. Obama.
On one hand the fact that Senate Dems have stabbed President Obama in the back time and time again, on Gitmo, on his Surgeon General appointee, on gun control, and in commercials where white Democrats do everything they can to slag a black President is going a long way towards turning off black voters.
On the other hand, the cynic in me is hearing alarm bells. Guess who will be blamed should Democrats lose in November? Hint, it won't be the Senate Dems who trashed Obama.
Black voters made history in 2012, exit polling and census data show, when they turned out at a rate higher than whites to help re-elect Mr. Obama. But fewer voters go to polls in midterm elections. In 2010, a disastrous year for Democrats, blacks voted at a rate lower than whites, creating a “turnout gap.”
The numbers are significant. Although more than 1.1 million black Georgians went to the polls in 2012, only about 741,000 voted in 2010. In North Carolina, Democrats say there are nearly one million black registered voters who did not vote in 2010.
Mr. Belcher declined to discuss for whom he had written the memo, saying it was private, but the document was circulated by the Democratic National Committee. In the memo, he also argued that the turnout gap, more than any Republican Tea Party wave, was responsible for Democrats’ 2010 defeats. So the challenge for Democrats is to get midterm voters to the polls at presidential election-year rates.
There are those alarm bells again. Note the memo blames black voters for Democratic losses in 2010. How come the onus for voting falls only on black voters now?
If Dems win, that'll be great. But if black turnout is so vital to the Democrats, why aren't we seeing more efforts to stop obvious black voter suppression through GOP voter ID laws?
And if Dems lose, well, guess whose fault it's going to be?