Republicans think white suburban women could be the lynchpin of the November gubernatorial election. Some Democrats believe shoring up the black woman base like Doug Jones did in Alabama is the lynchpin. Who is right? BOTH. There is no secret sauce. Winning the votes of people is the key. Getting your base to the polls is the key. Arguing about which part of your base is the most important, the most valid, the most relevant, IS NOT THE KEY! I am watching the Republicans play on the sensitivities of the Democrats to increase the divide within the party. Pay attention.
Take the recent Politico article where the question, again, is around the race of the two Democrat candidates and their voters. The article, like many others, explores whether black women or suburban white women are the key to a win for Democrats. Democrats have an opportunity to address race without making it the sole issue of the debate. But will they?
Democrats pay attention. The Republican Party knows that they are in trouble. As the Politico article describes, despite Georgia being a red state, Republicans know they have a liability … TRUMP. They know in the next eleven months leading up to the November 2018 General Election that they have no clue what xenophobic, homophobic, racist, or ignorant tweets or comments the President may make to swing voters point of view. Further, the Republican candidates for governor do not know what to do with him so they are mostly going to try to pretend Trump does not exist.
It is not just what Trump says or does, but it is how the Republican leadership at the local and state levels respond to it that matters. They know that no matter which of the two leading Democrats win, they have a perception problem. As the Politico article points out, “Illustrating their fears of losing a key demographic, Republican strategists who specialize in gubernatorial races have begun holding focus groups to gauge the likelihood of a suburban mass exodus to Democrats.” No matter one’s policy beliefs, it is getting more and more difficult for swing voters to hold their nose and ignore the stench that surrounds the president’s rhetoric.
The Republicans are planning ahead to push for the Democrat they think they can beat. The Republican strategy will be to split the Democrats over their two gubernatorial candidates. They will hone in on this white suburban women vote versus the black woman vote. They will play up the racial divide and the divide between rural and urban communities. Democrats let’s not fall for it and let’s certainly not lead that charge.
The job of political strategist is to take out emotion and look at the sheer numbers. The numbers of people who have voted in the past and the numbers who are likely to vote in the future. There is no doubt that a surge in black women voters AND a flip of suburban white women voters can tilt the scale. It is not an either-or proposition. The question for me is which campaign and candidate can bring both groups out TWICE.
In this election Democrats must be strategic. Democratic primary voters should think past the May primary and consider who their friends throughout Georgia will vote for in November. If we do not beat up the two candidates too bad in the primary, then both can help bring a new surge of voters to the polls in November.
Let us clear the field and end this debate today. It is true, African American women have consistently voted with the Democratic Party at 90% and higher for as long as I have been alive. Black women are in fact an important part of the party and should not be ignored. It is also true that the swing vote of white suburban women is important and we need to pull them to the side of women’s rights, pay equity, and women’s reproductive health in every election. That means we need to talk to both about issues and policy. Both are equally important just as both Democratic candidates are equally qualified. NOW let’s discuss which of these two candidates can get men voters to the polls in November.