Ladies and Gentlemen, the Next President of the United States … by Process of Elimination Part 3: Why Would Black Voters Turn Out for Hillary Clinton? This is the third a series of reports on the race for U.S. President. The series will unfold by process of elimination, interlocked with trends analyses, and conclude with
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Next President of the United States … by Process of Elimination
Part 3: Why Would Black Voters Turn Out for Hillary Clinton?
This is the third a series of reports on the race for U.S. President. The series will unfold by process of elimination, interlocked with trends analyses, and conclude with my forecast for the next president.
April 22, 2015 Vol. VIII, No. 7 3:13 pm
Racial and Ethnic Solidarity is Only One-Third of the Minority Turnout Story
Why would black voters turn out for Hillary Clinton in 2016?
In 2008, Barack Obama registered and turned out a record number of African-American voters. Throughout his first term, African-Americans remained loyal to President Obama despite unemployment numbers twice as high as those of white unemployed Americans. No surprises there. He was the first black President of the United States of America. Racial solidarity.
One year before President Obama’s campaign for a second term, half of all black teenagers were unemployed. Black home ownership plummeted to levels, relative to whites, not seen since 1960. Many questioned how long African-American loyalty to Obama would last in the face of declining economic security. So much more was expected.
Most blacks were worse off financially at the end of Obama’s first term than at the beginning. Yet in 2012, despite the loss of decades of economic gains by African-Americans, black turnout increased over that of 2008; 93% voted for President Obama. Racial solidarity.
Racial solidarity behind the first African-American president was unshakable. Black voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election was higher than that of non-Hispanic whites for the first time in U.S. history. Here in North Carolina, despite Republican election reforms, black voter turnout was higher than white voter turnout for the second time in state history; the first being 2008, the first time Obama ran.
Racial Solidarity Even More Important than Christian Values
Racial solidarity was even more important in 2012 than issues relating to Christian values.
Earlier that year, on Primary Election Day, May 8, 2012, African-American ministers throughout the state joined conservative white Republicans to pass Amendment One, banning same-sex marriages in the state. The next day, the top-of-the-fold picture on the front page of The News and Observer was of African-American Pastor Dr. Patrick Woodson Sr., Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Raleigh, and his wife, Pamela, celebrating Amendment One with joyful cheers and a raised fist of victory.
That afternoon, President Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage.
My political reflex was that it would have a negative impact on African-American turnout for President Obama in the 2012 General Election, here and around the country. I thought that snubbing the African American faith community just may cost him a second term.
Sure enough, that fall Dr. Patrick Woodson, Sr. cut a radio ad urging black voters to not vote for Obama because of the President’s support for same sex marriage. “Join me in saying ‘no more’ to President Obama," implored Dr. Woodson. It backfired. Black voters stood with Obama.
Racial solidarity behind the first black president of the United States was far more important to African-American Christians who supported Amendment One than the single issue of same sex marriage. Why? Because the most important concerns to African Americans in the fall of 2012 were jobs, the economy, home ownership, education and healthcare. Concerns that they felt President Obama was more likely to do something about than Republican Mitt Romney.
What Was the Minority-Targeted Conservative Alternative?
But racial solidarity is only one-third of the minority voter turnout story.
Another third is the fact that Republicans did not offer a conservative alternative in an effective, minority-targeted way. What was the compelling argument made by Republicans in the General Election of 2012 as to why African-Americans and other minorities should entrust GOP leaders with their concerns?
How much robust effort did Republicans make in the fall of 2012 to persuade minority voters that the conservative political agenda was in their best interest? Did they invest adequately in a well-researched and target-tested ad campaign with maximum saturation in minority markets throughout the country?
How much money did Republicans spend in the 2012 General Election on any minority market group? The Obama campaign spent $100 million on data analytics to improve their ability to communicate compelling messages to targeted potential voters like African-Americans. That’s why African-American turnout was higher in 2012 than in 2008.
That’s the third part of the minority turnout story. President Obama did not rely on racial solidarity to attain historic turnout among African-Americans in Ohio in the fall of 2012. Racial solidarity is not why African American turnout went from 11% in 2008 to 15% in Ohio in 2012.
A $100 Million Investment in Turnout was the Winning Difference
Racial solidarity is not why the President’s historic minority turnout in Ohio in 2012 put that state in his “wins” column and gave him a second term in the oval office. He won because he invested $100 million in research and targeted get-out-the-vote communications in order to drive up minority turnout. It was called Operation Narwhal. It began 18 months before Election Day.
Did the pro-Romney conservative camps simply not have the resources to compete with Obama nationally for minority voters? According to OpenSecrets.org, the Romney team spent $1.2 billion in 2012. Outside conservative organizations spent hundreds of millions on TV ads.
How much money did Republicans spend communicating compelling messages to African-Americans? Hispanics? Any minority? Well researched and target-tested messages? Maximum ad buys in minority markets? How early did they start their get-out-the-vote effort?
Here is an illustration that will give you a good sense of what the Republican National Committee thinks is an adequate investment in minority outreach:
After losing to Obama in 2012, Republicans did a self-assessment that led to a 100-page scathing critique of their political brand and campaign operations called the Growth and Opportunity Project. I read it. It was excellent. (It’s what North Carolina Democrats need today.)
However, as well-intentioned as that project was, it resulted in the typical Republican solution to minority outreach. Here is how Reince Priebus described the RNC’s efforts to reach minority voters on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” March 17, 2013. “We’re going to be announcing a $10 million initiative just this year and it will include hundreds of people, paid across the country, from coast-to-coast, in Hispanic and African-American, Asian communities, talking about our party, talking about our brand, talking about what we believe in,” said Priebus.
Do you think $10 million is adequate for a successful, national minority outreach initiative?
RNC’s $10 Million Drop in the Bucket
Impressed with the RNC’s $10 million national minority outreach initiative? Well, about how many votes do you think $10 million will influence in a nation where all major political players spend over $1 billion each? Both the Obama and Romney presidential teams spent over $1 billion in 2012. Hillary Clinton plans to spend upwards to $2.5 billion in her bid for the White House. Just the conservative Koch brothers plan to spend $900 million in 2016.
The 100 leading advertisers in American commerce spend $104.5 billion in 2012. That’s an average of over $1 billion each annually. And you want to be successful with a national minority outreach program with $10 million? In a nation of 340 million people, with one-in-three being members of racial or ethnic minorities? It’s no wonder Republicans never get to first base with minority voters. In today’s national politics, $10 million is a drop in the bucket.
The bottom line is that Obama and other Democrats do not get the lion’s share of minority voters because of racial solidarity or minority-sensitive issues alone. They get the lion’s share of minority voters because of two other reasons: they invest adequately and Republicans don’t.
Why would black voters turn out for Hillary Clinton in 2016? It can’t be because of racial or ethnic solidarity. It’s because she knows you must invest early and adequately in minority outreach, even if you are a more likely allied Democrat.
The only Republican who can defeat Hillary Clinton in the race for the U.S. Presidency is the one who is willing to invest early and adequately in minority outreach.
Tomorrow, I will suggest a test.
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