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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 11:58 AM
Updated: Dec 17, 2017 11:58 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 68433

Reported Deaths: 2980
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion14863719
Lake7101271
Elkhart459777
Allen3635158
St. Joseph315479
Hamilton2513104
Cass17519
Hendricks1750105
Vanderburgh172612
Johnson1652118
Porter119539
Tippecanoe110311
Clark108145
Madison84765
LaPorte83829
Kosciusko81912
Howard81065
Bartholomew74347
Marshall74222
Floyd69444
Monroe68630
Delaware63852
Noble63728
Boone63546
Dubois62612
Hancock62337
Jackson5524
LaGrange54210
Warrick51630
Shelby51126
Grant49629
Vigo47410
Dearborn46528
Morgan42532
Henry36118
Clinton3573
White34710
Montgomery34321
Lawrence32827
Wayne3179
Decatur31432
Harrison29422
Miami2582
Scott25010
Daviess24619
Greene23934
Franklin22410
DeKalb2224
Putnam2228
Jennings21012
Jasper2082
Gibson2004
Steuben2003
Ripley1887
Perry17212
Starke1657
Orange16424
Wabash1613
Posey1580
Fayette1557
Jefferson1492
Whitley1486
Fulton1462
Carroll1452
Wells1342
Knox1310
Huntington1183
Washington1161
Spencer1143
Newton11010
Tipton1075
Randolph1034
Clay975
Jay820
Adams812
Rush794
Owen781
Sullivan761
Pulaski721
Brown701
Fountain632
Benton600
Blackford532
Ohio514
Pike460
Parke451
Switzerland430
Crawford420
Martin420
Vermillion380
Union320
Warren191
Unassigned0200

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 93963

Reported Deaths: 3539
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin17254514
Cuyahoga12753477
Hamilton9160248
Lucas4944318
Montgomery405778
Summit3294217
Marion288444
Butler271459
Mahoning2411253
Pickaway235742
Stark1690132
Lorain163476
Warren163435
Columbiana158260
Trumbull1433103
Fairfield125425
Delaware120618
Licking112543
Clark108613
Lake104336
Wood92458
Clermont85511
Medina83533
Miami76937
Tuscarawas74713
Portage71760
Allen65442
Greene62611
Belmont58926
Richland54012
Ashtabula53945
Mercer53513
Geauga53143
Erie52427
Wayne49958
Ross4014
Huron3764
Ottawa35925
Athens3451
Madison33310
Sandusky33217
Holmes3226
Darke32127
Hancock3202
Auglaize2225
Lawrence2200
Union2161
Jefferson2063
Washington19722
Putnam19217
Scioto1881
Coshocton1866
Muskingum1811
Knox1692
Crawford1685
Preble1662
Seneca1613
Shelby1604
Morrow1582
Hardin15012
Clinton1486
Fulton1401
Champaign1381
Ashland1333
Highland1321
Defiance1294
Williams1243
Logan1231
Wyandot1207
Brown1121
Guernsey1117
Hocking1119
Carroll1085
Henry1061
Perry1062
Fayette970
Monroe9118
Van Wert691
Jackson670
Pike660
Paulding610
Gallia581
Adams532
Vinton302
Meigs250
Harrison201
Morgan200
Noble170
Unassigned00
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