William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THERE'S AN ELECTION SOMEPLACE?  REALLY?  Yeah, really.  The United States will hold a presidential election in one year and three months.  That is ten lifetimes in politics.  But you'd think, judging by the "news" reports, that the election will be held next week.

I urge you to be careful about political reports that try to predict the election, or the nominees.  At this stage, most political reporting falls into the infotainment category.  Polls are fun, and meaningless.  Speculation about which candidates are on top, ditto.  We don't even know, to put it bluntly, if some of the leading candidates will even survive medically to the next election.  And events, both world and national, have a way of disrupting political prognostication. 

The stories to avoid are those that generously use the word "may."  This "may" happen if this other thing happens.  This guy "may" get into the race.  (On the other hand, he may not.)  The stories to look for are those that, with authority, identify trends.  They may be polls, but they may also be sharp observations.

It was more than a year ago when a knowledgeable Hispanic commentator told me that the press was getting it wrong when reporting on the Hispanic communities (note the plural).  Hispanics, he said, are going through generational change.  They don't want to wear Che Guevara T-shirts.  They want to wear Brooks Brothers suits, and they are.  They're less interested in the Ivy League than in the great southern schools, especially Texas A&M.  And in the year since my talk with that Hispanic commentator we have seen one story after another confirming that Hispanic Americans are moving to the right.  That is a trend to watch – it follows the traditions of other immigrant groups, and generational change is one of the most permanent trends of all. 

And so we come to another trend worth watching...that black Americans are drifting, if slowly, away from their base in the Democratic Party.  From Daily Caller: 

Democrats are concerned that black voters won’t turn out for President Joe Biden in 2024 like they did during the 2020 election, according to The Washington Post.

Democrats are increasingly worried after the 2022 midterms saw a 10% voting drop among the crucial electorate, despite the party’s victories in the Senate, according to the Post. Party activists are now making it a priority to bolster turnout for black voters, particularly in key battleground states Biden narrowly secured in 2020 — Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

“The Democratic Party has been failing epically at reaching this demographic of black men — and that’s sad to say,” W. Mondale Robinson, founder of the Black Male Voter Project, told the Post. “Black men are your second-most stable base overwhelmingly, and yet you can’t reach them in a way that makes your work easier.”

Robinson argued that Democrats should focus on black men, who are “sporadic or non-voters,” rather than suburban “conservative-leaning white women,” he told the Post. Many Democrats told the Post their concerns are largely over black men and not women, who they expect to continue to show out for Biden so long as Vice President Kamala Harris is on the ballot.

Black voters are significantly less enthused about a Biden reelection campaign than they were in 2020, with only 55% saying they’re likely to support him in 2024, according to an early May AP/NORC poll. The same poll suggests that 81% of Democratic voters say they’d definitely or probably would support the president if he’s the nominee.

“We have to meet them where they are and we have to show them why the political process matters and what we have accomplished that benefits them,” Cedric L. Richmond, senior adviser at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and former Biden adviser, told the Post. “We will not make the mistake that others made of not drawing all the connections.”

Terrance Woodbury, co-founder and CEO of HIT Strategies, a polling firm focused on minority voters, told the Post that Democrats need to emphasize how their policies benefit black voters rather than voicing concern over former President Donald Trump.
Sharif Street, a Democratic state senator in Pennsylvania, echoed Woodbury’s sentiment, and told the Post “being better than the Republicans is not always enough to get people motivated to vote.”

COMMENT:  Fascinating.  Maybe black men are becoming more and more aware that the Democratic Party hasn't lifted a finger for them...unless they're elected officials.  We should remember that, until the modern civil rights movement came along, blacks were a safe Republican constituency.  The GOP was the party of Lincoln, the Dems the party of segregation.

Why the change to the Democrats?  First of all, the Republicans, as usual, were late to the game, whereas liberal northern Democrats embraced Dr. King and his movement.  The voting rights act gave extra power to black voters, and they started turning to the party that marched with them.

It's sad, because the major civil rights laws of the 1960s were passed in part because of Republican support.  

Today, Republicans have a chance to take back a good chunk of black America by showing the economic opportunities that Republican policies will bring.  But will the GOP move?  That is the question, isn't it?

July 31, 2023