September 5, 2016 8:40 AM
Newspaper stories about how Georgia might could possibly be in play for the Democrats this election year are seemingly a dime a dozen, as pundits weigh the unpopularity of Donald Trump against an increasing percentage of minority voters in the Peach State that typically vote for Democrats. Typical of the genre is this story from this weekend’s Los Angeles Times.
After reviewing the lay of the land and comparing Georgia to Virginia and North Carolina, the story points out that a Hillary Clinton win would require what it calls a “perfect convergence” of events. “It’s definitely realistically possible,” the story quotes James Carter, the President’s grandson. Yet, there’s one wild card in the mix. The problem is that younger blacks aren’t necessarily big fans of Clinton.
“They may hate [Trump]. But they don’t necessarily like or really trust” Hillary Clinton, said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster who specializes in surveying African American voters. “This idea that just because he’s racist means they’re going to vote for her and embrace her — it’s not that simple.”
That’s been Mary-Pat Hector’s experience, to her great frustration.
A student organizer at Spelman College, a historically black women’s college in Atlanta, the 18-year-old Hector said her peers “know the things Donald Trump says are sexist. They know the things he’s said are racist.”
But rather than vote for Clinton, they tell her they’ll stay home in November, having little affection for a candidate they associate with the mass imprisonment of young black men under policies her husband pursued as president.
The LA Times story is backed up in a front page story today in that other Times, the one in New York. The NYT story describes the results of several focus groups conducted to assess Hillary Clinton’s popularity among young blacks, and the results show millennial blacks have almost as much cynicism about Clinton as they do about Donald Trump. Much of this appears to be that the use of traditional methods of reaching out to African Americans no longer work as well as they did when Bill Clinton ran 20 years ago.
Part of Mrs. Clinton’s problem, said Symone Sanders, a former top aide to Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign, is that the candidate is overly cautious and is conducting an outdated style of black outreach.
Ms. Sanders has begun taking matters into her own hands. She said she was working with other young activists to recruit black celebrities for a millennial mobilization tour through Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
“Black churches and an H.B.C.U. tour is just not going to cut it in 2016,” said Ms. Sanders, referring to historically black colleges and universities. “The Clinton campaign has to be willing to get out of what’s comfortable and get on the streets.”
Clinton’s success in getting minority young people to vote for her, and whether Donald Trump’s recent effort at minority outreach is effective, could mean the difference between a close election and a landslide in November. As Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher said in the Times story, without the millennial black vote, you have a repeat of 2004 and John Kerry.