by CHARLES M. BLOW
The president and fellow Democrats have taken a page from the Republican playbook. They’re unabashedly using racial-solidarity politics to animate voters. In this case, the Democrats’ appeal is to black voters, the most unwavering portion of President Obama’s base, and the message is simple: The president is under attack, and black voters must mobilize to protect him.
The Democratic National Committee is spending an unprecedented $3 million on advertising aimed at African-Americans for the midterms this year. As part of that effort, the committee has cut a new radio ad featuring the Rev. Joseph Lowery, the civil rights leader, that outlines the threat and the call to action: “When young people took to the streets, we elected our first African-American president. Right now, there are those doing everything in their power to block the president’s agenda. And that’s why we’re counting on you to vote. In 2008, we changed the guard. This year, we must guard the change.”
Other ads, on black radio and in black newspapers, simply extol their audiences to “stand with President Obama.”
These ads aren’t about policy. They’re personal appeals on behalf of the president. You don’t have to be engaged to get it. This November you’re voting for Obama, again.
As Politico noted this week, “the White House has hesitated to cast the midterm elections as a referendum on President Barack Obama, except when it comes to one key constituency: African-American voters.”
This strategy could prove extremely effective.
A report issued Thursday by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies outlines the fact that black voters are “strategically situated in 2010 to have a major impact” because (1) there is “a significant number of black voters in the states and districts where many of the most competitive elections will be held” and (2) “there is a president who is very popular with African-Americans and who is under attack from Congressional Republicans.”
And Friday, The Washington Post reported that a poll by that newspaper, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University found that “80 percent of black Democrats are as interested or more interested in the midterms than they were in the 2008 presidential election.”
A large black turnout next month could prove decisive and upset the predictions of most pundits. If blacks do turn out in record numbers, it would almost certainly be because they are drawn out by their devotion to Obama, a devotion he’s counting on.
As the president told an audience last week at Bowie State University, a historically black college, in Maryland: “I think the pundits are wrong. But it’s up to you to prove them wrong. Don’t make me look bad, now.”
Charles M. Blow is a New York Times Columnist and nationally-known commentator: “I invite you to visit my blog By The Numbers, join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”