Why Do Democrats Think They Can Bash Obama and Get Black Votes?

Why Do Democrats Think They Can Bash Obama and Get Black Votes?


Here are a few election time questions to think over: Why in the world do Democrats think they can bash President Obama and his policies and still win Black votes?  Why should Black voters be motivated to turnout after months of watching Democrats bash the President?  What exactly is the strategy for Democrats to get Black voters out?

Many Democrats running this cycle, even in states and districts with large Black voting populations like North Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana, have made the deduction that annoying and ignoring Black voters is less important than winning white ones.  The white swing voter is allegedly a more vital target than the Black voter who is a 95% sure bet to vote for a Democrat.  It’s a fascinating strategy featuring Democrats running in fear of their own record while ignoring what’s happened over the last six years.

Osama Bin Laden is dead. The unemployment rate is now 5.9 percent.  Even the Black unemployment rate dropped from 16.5 percent in 2011 to 11.4.5 currently.  Over eight million Americans have signed up for health care.  The Republican contribution?  Gridlock, votes on Obamacare repeals and shutting down the government.  The approval numbers for Republicans in Congress is lower than the President’s yet Democrats shun his policies?

The President is touting his record alone in speeches here and there with a 40% approval rating. But Congress’ approval sits at 14% — the lowest since 1974.  You wonder what the numbers would be if Democrats actually stopped apologizing for their record and instead put the GOP on defense.  Republicans ground the government to a halt after 2010 when the GOP won flag7control of the House.  Who among the GOP on the federal level can argue legislative achievement in a party whose number one ideology is gridlock?  If Democrats asked Republicans “what have you gotten done while in office,” there couldn’t possibly be a good answer for a member of the majority party in the least productive Congress in history.

When asked what the Democrats’ strategy was for getting out the Black vote, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel referenced a voter turnout strategy focused on getting voters out based on “what’s at stake for the African American community.”

But Democrats started on defense and remain on defense. They’ve bought in to the GOP messaging.  What are Black voters supposed to think of all this?  What specific message can be heard around “what’s at stake” for Black voters?

Apparently Democrats forgot that Black voters are the party’s most loyal voting block.  In 2012 Black voters turned out at a higher percentage than whites.  Black women are the highest turnout group among all women.  These trends are due to end after Obama leaves office not just because the first Black President will be departing but because Democrats fail to support the policies enacted while he was there.

In a midterm election it will take more than a pre-election day Sunday swing-by to get Black voters and others out.  Yet many Democrats make no specific references or pledges on specific policy that might motivate that turnout.  Few Democrats dares discuss racial profiling, mandatory minimums or justice reform or — God forbid — health care reform.  In a recent debate in Virginia it was fascinating to watch the GOP candidate, Ed Gillespie, bring up rolling back mandatory minimums without prompting as the Democrat, Mark Warner, said nothing of the sort.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat running for Senate in Kentucky against gridlock king, Sen. Mitch McConnell, won’t even admit she voted for President Obama. Instead of running a campaign that puts McConnell on defense by bringing up how little he’s done for Kentucky, Grimes is on defense spending time making sure voters don’t think she agrees with President Obama.

In Arkansas, Sen. Mark Pryor’s race has become about Pryor dodging questions on whether he agrees with President Obama — exactly as the GOP wants. In Colorado, Democrat Mark Udall (D-CO) was asked “which of the President’s proposed policies are you prepared to vote against” by a moderator.  Even the journalists have bought in to the GOP’s narrative.

Do Democrats really think that people who care about whether they agreed with the President will vote for them? If a voter’s big concern is whether a candidate agreed with the President in their party you can pretty much bet that’s a Republican voter.  To the extent Democrats are trying to win the voter who hates the President and get out the base simultaneously:  Good luck.

Even after 8 million Americans have signed up, Democrats run from the idea of bringing up the Affordable Care Act as a success.  The number of Americans without health care has dropped to the lowest rate since the 1990s — from 18 percent to 13 percent. The uninsured rate for African-Americans is now 15.1 percent, from 18.9 percent.  But Democrats fail to mention how dead wrong Republicans were in 2010 and beyond after health care reform was signed into law.  Instead they continue to be on the run.

It seems Democrats are on the brink of getting the result they deserve.  Does running away from your own record work? The Democratic party is likely to find out the answer to that question the hard way on November 4th.


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Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is a writer, comms strategist and political analyst. She created Crewof42, a blog focused on African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke also writes for NBC BLK, The Root, NNPA and is the Managing Editor of Politic365. As part of a diverse career in politics and media, she has served as a congressional staffer for the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Director of Communications for Justin Fairfax for Lt. Governor of Virginia. From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Burke appeared each Monday on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin on TVOne. Ms. Burke holds a B.A. in History from The American University. She was born and raised in New York. Email: LBurke007@gmail.com. Twitter: @LVBurke. IG: @laurenvburke. Periscope: @LVBurke