Democrats, please learn from Birmingham

Since the election of President Donald Trump, Democrats have been obsessed with the disaffected Trump voter. I hate t...

Posted: Dec 17, 2017 10:58 AM
Updated: Dec 17, 2017 10:58 AM

Since the election of President Donald Trump, Democrats have been obsessed with the disaffected Trump voter. I hate to break it to Democrats, but these voters just aren't that into you. Want proof? Look no further than Tuesday's shocker in Alabama.

Seventy-seven percent of white working-class voters -- white voters without a college degree who we can assume voted for Trump -- cast a ballot for Republican Roy Moore. In stark contrast, virtually every black Alabamian -- roughly 96%-- voted for Sen.-elect Doug Jones. Black votes literally paved the way to victory for the long shot Democratic candidate. And statewide candidates in Ohio, Missouri, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Maryland should take note.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are two notable Democrats with presidential aspirations who have been preoccupied with winning back the trust of disaffected Trump voters. So, after Tuesday, are we going to coddle voters who enthusiastically supported Moore, or are we going to prioritize our party's most loyal voting bloc?

If Democrats expect to be competitive in 2018 and 2020, the answer is simple: Engage black voters.

For a playbook on what effective black voter engagement looks like, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin's campaign offers a strong example.

Woodfin's task was no easy one. He was up against an older, more established black elected official, William Bell, who was universally known. And even though someone black was going to win anyway -- because of the choices -- it's worth paying attention to who came out to vote for Woodfin.

Over 35% of Birmingham's registered voters cast their ballots in the October mayoral runoff election. And while over 11,000 voters had never voted in a municipal election, 1,500 of those voters were between the age of 18 and 24.

Woodfin and his consultants from Pine Street Strategies, a D.C. lobbying firm, were able to cultivate grass-roots excitement because they spoke to African-Americans like "persuasion voters" -- or voters who you have to persuade to turn out to vote -- instead of assuming black voters will show up, as campaigns often do.

Moreover, the Woodfin campaign engaged local black media around their policy platform and discussed issues with families across the city, and they responded accordingly at the polls. Voters in African-American strongholds like Ensley and Collegeville could tell you exactly what a Woodfin vote meant for their family and community.

This is how you engage black voters in 2018, and it's a stark departure from the traditional Democratic playbook of fish fries, photo ops, and last-minute ads.

Real engagement also includes hiring diverse senior-level campaign consultants who do more than just African-American outreach. Our perspective has to be reflected in both black outreach and overall campaign strategy and messaging. For instance, I find it hard to believe that the now-infamous Jones Confederate campaign ad would have seen the light of day if there were more African-Americans included in the development of that ad. In a different race against a different candidate, that ad could have cost him the election.

Lastly, engagement with black voters must start when the campaign starts -- not during the last 30-day sprint to the finish line. Failing to prioritize African-Americans will ultimately leave valuable votes on the table, preventing Democrats from gaining back ground in state legislature and congressional seats that they have lost in the last decade.

But engaging black voters also does not stop when you win. For Jones, this means fighting to ensure cities like Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery, as well as Alabama's Black Belt counties are not afterthoughts during appropriations season. It means engaging our radio and press outlets the same way you do mainstream outlets instead of simply buying ads during an election. It means coming to our churches -- and clapping on beat -- even when there is not an election.

Disaffected Trump voters showed us who they were during the presidential election and they reminded us of who they were on Tuesday in Alabama. It is time for Democrats to believe them and move on.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 261167

Reported Deaths: 5713
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17561191
Hinds16687329
Harrison14050202
Rankin11102217
Jackson10729188
Lee9014143
Madison8495168
Jones6607114
Forrest6135122
Lauderdale6067192
Lowndes5490120
Lafayette511794
Lamar499865
Washington4904125
Bolivar4087109
Oktibbeha403581
Panola380981
Pontotoc374757
Monroe3651106
Warren3649103
Union353263
Marshall352069
Neshoba3464154
Pearl River3422105
Leflore3090109
Lincoln304287
Sunflower290373
Hancock288461
Tate279062
Alcorn270754
Pike268180
Itawamba266662
Scott256048
Yazoo253756
Prentiss251153
Copiah247649
Tippah247550
Coahoma245954
Simpson241471
Leake236167
Grenada222471
Marion220273
Covington219072
Adams212370
Wayne208432
Winston205870
George203539
Newton197346
Attala196461
Tishomingo193861
Chickasaw188444
Jasper177838
Holmes171368
Clay164237
Tallahatchie155635
Stone149525
Clarke144762
Calhoun139922
Smith127725
Yalobusha121134
Walthall114037
Greene112929
Noxubee112225
Montgomery111236
Carroll106422
Lawrence105617
Perry104031
Amite100826
Webster95424
Tunica88221
Claiborne87825
Jefferson Davis87727
Benton84823
Humphreys84224
Kemper80020
Quitman7049
Franklin69617
Choctaw62513
Wilkinson59625
Jefferson56520
Sharkey44817
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 436087

Reported Deaths: 6486
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63969994
Mobile31211565
Madison27851208
Tuscaloosa21233271
Montgomery19698326
Shelby19093130
Baldwin16981188
Lee13036105
Morgan12526134
Etowah11987179
Calhoun11441206
Marshall10357123
Houston8886158
Limestone827876
Cullman8203108
Elmore8120104
DeKalb7828103
Lauderdale7798103
St. Clair7763125
Talladega6394111
Walker6002177
Jackson594644
Colbert545276
Blount543986
Autauga532761
Coffee456762
Dale406883
Franklin372448
Russell349212
Chilton342873
Covington336068
Escambia330144
Dallas312096
Tallapoosa3120107
Chambers301170
Clarke293336
Pike261131
Marion251558
Lawrence250752
Winston232742
Bibb221248
Geneva208746
Marengo206529
Pickens199031
Hale182742
Barbour179337
Fayette177029
Butler172459
Cherokee164330
Henry158224
Monroe151320
Randolph144336
Washington140127
Clay129146
Crenshaw122944
Macon120937
Cleburne120724
Lamar119721
Lowndes113736
Wilcox106622
Bullock102228
Perry99118
Conecuh96821
Sumter90026
Greene76823
Coosa63215
Choctaw51724
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