A front page story in Sunday’s New York Times quoted a memo from former Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher predicting that Democrats would suffer “crushing losses” unless they were able to drive turnout of African-American voters this year. The memo claimed that half of black voters don’t know when the midterm election is.
Georgia is one of four states where black voter turnout could decide which party controls the Senate in January.
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.
“If you tell me in Georgia that, on the closing of the polls, the electorate is 32 percent African-American, I’m going to tell you we have probably elected a Democratic senator,” he said. “That’s not theory. It’s basic math.”
Democratic efforts to boost black turnout have been stymied by the fact that the one person who could do the most to motivate African-American voters — President Obama — is also the one person many Democratic candidates don’t want to appear to be associated with.
The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll last week noted that while voter enthusiasm nationwide is lower than normal, it’s higher in the states with competitive Senate races. 54% of voters in those states are enthusiastic about the election, while only 44% nationally are.
Are Georgia’s minority voters fired up and ready to cast their votes? There have been rumors that Democratic voters aren’t overly enthusiastic about Michelle Nunn beacause she hasn’t made statements of support for progressive goals, and hasn’t been vocal enough in backing President Obama.
That may be wishful thinking on behalf of Republicans. What we do have is this tweet from former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.