July 27, 2004

THE BLASE BASE (via Kevin Whited):

Black voters may stay home if campaigns don't step up (DeWayne Hickman, 7/26/04, USA Today)

While black voters favor Kerry over Bush by an 8-to-1 margin, only 27% say they're "enthusiastic" about the Massachusetts senator's candidacy, and 58% say they're merely "satisfied." These lukewarm attitudes open up the possibility that some may ultimately decide to sit out this election.

Their lack of enthusiasm for Kerry is mind-boggling. Nearly two-thirds of the poll's respondents say they believe Kerry shares their priorities and 85% say they disapprove of the job Bush is doing.

In essence, black voters are turned off by Bush, but are not turned on by Kerry — and I suspect there is little either man personally can do to reverse these numbers. They need help from others who have a long-established standing among black voters.

Kerry is leaning heavily on members of the Congressional Black Caucus to get blacks to the polls, but the BET/CBS poll suggests he should be knocking on the Rev. Jesse Jackson's door.

Jackson, who once described himself as "a tree shaker, not a jelly maker" because of his penchant for getting in and out of racial hot spots, has a pied piper's appeal with black voters. He won millions of black votes in his 1984 and 1988 campaigns for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Not surprisingly, the poll's respondents ranked him as "the most important national leader in the black community today."

If Kerry wants to get black voters excited about his campaign, his campaign needs to get excited about Jackson.

Mr. Hickman is using the example of 1984 and 1988? Surely Karl Rove wrote this?

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 27, 2004 11:33 AM

I could be wrong but I think there were similar stories about Gore in 2000 (African Americans not excited about his campaign) which led to the Jasper TX ads, church burning radio spots, and Bush getting only 9% of their vote.
While I am still pessimistic about Bush getting much more of their vote I don't think the Dems can pull the same stunt in 2004. And I don't Jackson's rep is nearly as good among non-African Americans - Kerry getting closer to Jackson might push more whites/other toward Bush.

Posted by: AWW at July 27, 2004 11:55 AM

No, Gore always had the black vote--remember him pummeling Bradley in Harlem.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2004 12:36 PM

Perhaps I was remembering Gore being compared to Clinton ("the first black president") and coming up short.

Posted by: AWW at July 27, 2004 1:15 PM

The lack of energy in the 'minority' community was revealed by Reverend Al's showing in the primaries. Kerry must be pleased that he doesn't have to give Al a prime-time slot to speak.

All the more reason why the GOP should work to increase its share - broadcasting Bush's questions at the Urban League meeting would be a good start.

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 27, 2004 1:56 PM


The "get out and vote" subtext in '00 centered on the possibility of pulling off some sort of "reparations" scenario. The '02 election squelched that big time. I'm looking for a very light black turnout in comparison to '00. There are no goodies in the bag this time and the 'walking around' money just won't be there. Philadelphia will, as always, be in play but St. Louis is doubtful. Barak can't even come on strong in his speech because it would become fodder in his campaign.

Posted by: Rick Ballard at July 27, 2004 4:37 PM

The problem for Kerry is that he can't fake a connection to black voters the way Bill Clinton could, and needs some sort of help from other politcians. Edwards may be of some aid (but I doubt it), while Kerry really can't afford to be seen hanging around Jesse Jackson or most of the Congressional Black Caucus folks, because they're likely to say something that would blow the senator's "stealth candidacy/moderate image" gameplan out of the water.

If Barack Obama didn't have his own race to run in Illinois, Kerry and Edwards would no doubt be dragging him around the country to stir up the black voter base of the party, sice he showed with Tim Russert an ability to dodge the hottest rhetoric that others in the CBC just can't manage (though given the push he's getting at this year's convention of being the Democrats "rising star" and how liberal his voting record really is, if he gets elected to the senate it will be interesting down the line to see how the black voters in the party split between the Obama wing and the more moderate views of Harold Ford, Jr., who has higher political ambitions of his own).

Posted by: Jlohn at July 27, 2004 5:07 PM

AWW is right. The Jasper Ads had the effect of energizing the black vote for a candidate that had no particlar appeal. i.e. if you don't get out and vote the Republicans are going to drag you through the streets from the backs of their pickups! Well, after 4 years nothing of the sort has happened so another tack will have to be used. Look for ads in black media in swing states waving the bloody shirt of Florida '00, saying that millions of blacks were kept from the polls by Bush's dogs, the more outrageous, the more effective. The Bush campaign should counter these ads with ads in black media that are just as ridiculous. State that voting democrat is shown to leave black men impotent or some such nonsense. It can't be any worse than what the GOP has been doing.

Posted by: G. Eugene at July 27, 2004 6:50 PM

>State that voting democrat is shown to leave
>black men impotent or some such nonsense...

It's not nonsense.

When blacks always vote Dem, why should either party care about them?

Dems: We don't need to do anything for them -- they'll vote for us no matter what.

GOP: Why do anything for them? They'll vote against us no matter what.

The Klan couldn't have come up with a better way to castrate the black community politically.

Posted by: Ken at July 27, 2004 7:10 PM

You guys kill me. It wasn't the Jasper ads that galvanized the black vote it was what actually happened in Jasper and the actual church burnings that made African Americans aware that there are still real negative forces out there that affect the African-American community. It was silly for the republicans to not have addressed this problem to all Americans as a "cancer" in our society. The fact that Democrats did, showed you how little the Republicans highlighted these facts and that Republicans thought very little about these issues.

But why is it that some folks always think that black folks are just stupid, hypnotized idiots who cannot tell when a politician is pandering to them-whether they are Democrat or Republican! Blacks did not vote for Gore in 2000 because of Jasper-they voted for Gore because of his positions on jobs, health care, education etc.. They fundamentally disagreed with Bush on these issues. That's right, blacks actually vote on issues not just emotions.

Blacks vote overwhelming for the Democrats because they generally agree with the Democrats on the issues that are important to them. The real question is why in the world do poor whites vote republican? I don't know about you but a capital gains tax cut to a guy making $19,000 a year in Appalachia probably doesn't mean much. Or why the guy in North Carolina whose son comes back in body bag from Iraq- is consistenly voting Republican. No one seems to talk about that kind of "castration" of the poor white community, which I think has less to do with their interests than blacks do by voting Democtratic. All of folks on Jerry Springer should be voting Democrat!

As for reparations, this has always been more an issue about the guilt of white america then black america. Black people have no illusions about getting reparations. If black were jews that would be one thing, then maybe whites would think there would be a "valid" basis for reparations, but the fact of the matter is, blacks are not holding out for justice in the form of repartaions any more then they held out for the 'forty acres and a mule' lie that they were promised after slavery. But what the heck, there is no harm in trying. Whites think blacks are complainers anyway, just wanting free-bees, but conveniently forget about slavery which was the biggest wealth transfer this country has ever seen, along with the GI bill which constructed homes for whites but left most black GI's out in the cold (literally). Oh I'm sorry, I forgot, most whites never had anything to do with slavery it was soooo long ago. Why should we pay for what others did? Yea, African-Americans ask the same question "why should we?" Believe me blacks are under nor illusions about America's promises (and there have been many) and are not making political decisions on this issue either, but whites are sure focused on it-Hmmm, I wonder why?

Lastly, the lack of energy in 'minority' commuities was not evidenced by the lack of support for Al Sharpton. This assumes one thing, that Al Sharpton represents the interests of "minority" communities. Again, this shows the ignorance that people have of the black community in general. Al Sharpton was never particularly well received in all corners of the black community. He does have a constituency, that is true, but this constituency has never been that broad. Whites like to tout him as the "new black messiah leader" much like they are trying to do with Barack Obama, the fact is that the black community has gone way beyond looking to one towering leader for some time now or Colin Powell a few years ago. Are people so afraid of dealing with more than one leader that happens to be black. Al Sharpton is one leader-mostly Northeastern, urban (meaning city, not black) leader. Jesse Jackson will always have the older generation and some young people who remember his civil rights days and his two tries at the presidency, but more and more black folks just want leaders who can perform and who are competent. Harold Ford, Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson Jr, Anthony Williams, Corey Booker, Artur Davis are beginning to fit this mold, and the fact that they are black is only coincidental. They tend to be favored by the ever growing black middle calss and by younger black voters who have given up on the traditional "civil rights leadership" and also by more progressive white voters. But Al Sharpton, always spoke for a minute part of the African American community, and probably always will and is trying to expand his base. Just because black voters did not go for Sharpton did not mean that they did not vote for Kerry or Edwards during the primaries. That was the important lesson learned.

But what's funny is that George Bush asked the question to the Urban League-"Are the Democrats taking your vote for granted" -The resounding answer from most blacks is that even though they may not get everything they want from the Democrats, they are at least invited to the table. For Bush to ask that question, but not offer an real substantive reason for why Blacks should choose to vote Republican, was either down-right dumb, or a cynical ploy to try to get black voters to stay home this election. But after Florida 2000 that ain't gonna happen.

Posted by: Jay at August 2, 2004 10:46 AM