The Democratic Party's 2016 presidential standard-bearer needs to draw lessons from the failure of Mary Landrieu
in Louisiana to generate enthusiasm for her candidacy among African-American voters, writes Alex Roarty of the National Journal
Landrieu won the black vote in both the all-party primary and the general election, but apparently couldn't excite African-Americans to turnout in sufficient numbers for the runoff, writes Roarty. Any post-Obama Democratic presidential nominee needs to do more than merely capture the black vote — she or he has to generate enough enthusiasm so that the level of turnout stays high.
While African American turnout in the 2016 presidential election is expected to be higher than in the midterms, it's unlikely the next Democratic nominee will generate the level of excitement among blacks that Barack Obama did. Black turnout in 2012
was 66.2 percent compared to the overall figure of 57.5 for all Americans.
"Just a little bit of a pull back for a Democratic candidate will make winning a lot more dicey," according to demographer William Frey, the Journal reported.
Black turnout had been increasing even before Obama came upon the scene. It was 56.8 percent in 2000 compared to 54.2 percent for all voters. Recent Democratic presidential candidates have pulled at or close to 90 percent of the black vote, according to the Journal.
While Hillary Clinton can be expected to generate enthusiasm among some black women voters and among other African-Americans who remember Bill Clinton with fondness, it's not clear that will be enough to spur the levels of participation needed in any close race.
The other problem Clinton — or any other Democrat will have — is to bring out the black vote in huge numbers without alienating white voters.
Landrieu pulled 94 percent of the black vote in the primary.
"What hurt Landrieu was her performance among white voters — just 18 percent of them backed her. And that's not a coincidence," writes Roarty.
Her statement that racism helped make Obama unpopular in the state further undermined her standing with white voters.
"If you do what Mary Landrieu did and you make so much of your campaign about turning out the black vote, then you get in big trouble with the white vote," Louisiana political analyst Elliott Stonecipher told the Journal.
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