The Blue Wave Won’t Happen Without Black and Brown Voters

by Thomas Kennedy | August 25, 2018 7:00 am

The Trump administration and its constant barrage of embarrassing antics seem to be turning off a significant portion of the American electorate. Since Trump’s inauguration last year, Republican candidates have been badly beaten in places like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, Florida, and even deep red Alabama. It all seems to signal that a backlash against Trump and his enablers in Congress is brewing and that the Democratic Party will be resurgent in the November midterm elections due to what is being described as the “blue wave.”

Polls have repeatedly indicated favorable scenarios for Democrats. A plurality of the electorate favor Democrats over Republicans while suburbanites, independents and white college-educated voters are drifting away from their previous support for the GOP. Trump’s approval rating hovers around 40%, and low presidential approval has historically signified gains for the opposition party.

While it is true that prospects look good for Democrats in the upcoming elections, they would be wise to remember conventional wisdom regarding the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election and the subsequent surprise following Trump’s victory.

Democrats should not take anything for granted in this Tuesday’s primaries and in the general election this November.

The current gerrymandered district maps will make it difficult for Democrats to gain the 24 seats they need to flip the House. The Senate will be even more difficult, with Democrats defending 26 seats compared with nine held by Republicans. For Democrats to flip the chamber, they must successfully defend their seats and at the same time win two of the Republican seats in play. It is possible, but there is almost no room for error.

It’s crucial that Democrats embrace their base to ensure success.

Last year’s gubernatorial election in Virginia is an example of how powerful the black and brown vote can be. Black voters at the polls gave 85% of their votes to Ralph Northam, propelling him to victory against an opponent who had made the defense of confederate monuments a central issue of his campaign.

In Alabama, 93 percent of black men and 98 percent of black women turned out to vote in a special election for Doug Jones, denying pedophile Roy Moore the Alabama Senate seat.

If the blue wave happens, it will be because black and brown voters have turned out to the polls in a way that has not been seen in recent midterm elections.

In my home state of Florida, we are currently seeing what could shape up to be the most expensive Senate race in the history of the country, between incumbent Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Incumbent Governor Rick Scott, a Republican. In order to defeat Scott and the various special interests that back him, including for-profit prisons and the big sugar industry, Nelson will have to unite the vote and rally a diverse coalition including Latinos, African Americans, and black immigrants to his side.

Fortunately, community and grassroots organizations are busy working to expand the electorate, conducting difficult work like registering voters to turn out the vote this Tuesday August 28 as well as for the November election. Instead of focusing on the high propensity voters that traditional parties and candidate campaigns usually go after, these organizations are building a permanent voting block of black and brown voters. Furthermore, they are creating an infrastructure to continue organizing past the midterms to hold politicians accountable.

It is undeniable that the electoral victories that Democrats have enjoyed thus far since Trump’s elections have been due to black and brown voters turning out to the polls. It’s time for the democrats to make serious outreach efforts to its base of voters, black and brown working families. We need to elect leaders who will work for all of us and, not just the corporate interests that have controlled our political system.

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