Black Voters Powered Democrats' Senate Win in Alabama. Would Same Strategy Work in Texas?

Doug Jones' win over controversial Republican Roy Moore gave Democrats more than another seat in the U.S. Senate.The hard-fought victory provided Democrats across the country, most notably in the south, with validation that an effective voter turnout effort powered by black voters is a winning formula.It's not an old proposition. Blacks have always been the most reliable part of the Democratic Party base. They helped Barack Obama win North Carolina in 2008 in route to winning the White House. And they had long fortified the so-called blue wall of Midwestern states, like Michigan and Wisconsin, that — stunningly — crumbled in 2016 when Republican Donald Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton to win the presidency.Democrats hope to use black voters to reinforce their strongholds in the north and possibly win in southern states like Georgia and South Carolina.But what about Texas, where, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, blacks make up only 11.8 percent of the overall population?While statewide success is almost certainly tied to energizing the Hispanic electorate, black voters have and will continue to make inroads in urban areas and some small towns where their population is significant.Jane Hamilton, a political consultant who managed the 2006 coordinated campaign that swept Dallas County Democrats into political dominance, said national and local Democrats sometimes don't appreciate black voters."The party has gotten complacent and taken the African-American community for granted both locally and nationally," Hamilton said. "Doug Jones' election in Alabama is a reminder that African-American voters are the foundation of our Democratic Party coalition. African-American Democrats are informed, effective and essential to winning."Hamilton, former chief of staff for Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said Alabama Democratic leadership "made the smart calculation to go back to the basics by focusing first and foremost on get-out-the vote efforts in African-American communities," particularly with black women."When strong messaging and real resources are directed at the African-American vote, it not only increases African-American turnout, it helps win over responsible voters of all races," Hamilton said. "It is a winning strategy that pays off in a big way, and we saw the strategy work here in Dallas County when we used it to flip the county from Republican to Democratic."Women, most of them black, make up the majority of the Democratic Party base vote. "African-American women were mobilized in Alabama," said state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas. "It was a campaign of urgency. We need to make our midterm elections a sense of urgency. We need to make it about getting away from the antics and the policies of Donald Trump."Cliff Walker, political director for the Texas Democratic Party, said he would reach out to Alabama Democrats and the state's NAACP branches to discuss their winning approach."What's exciting is that there is opportunity to reclaim this ground," he said. "Democrats have been looking at black voters and seeing that turnout wasn't at the level it was during the Obama years. What we demonstrated in Alabama is that even though Barack Obama was not on the ballot, black voters participated at larger numbers and got a larger share of the election turnout."  Continue reading...

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