No one expects African-Americans to vote in anywhere near their numbers from 2008, when their 65 percent turnout matched that of whites for the first time. But that isn’t stopping Democratic organizers and supporting groups from using aggressive, even racially charged, tactics to get them to the polls next Tuesday.
Compared with previous midterm elections, the Democratic Party, organized labor and civil-rights organizations are investing more money in campaign advertising and field work to break through widespread voter apathy and reach arguably the party’s most loyal group of voters.
If trying to overcome the Republicans’ strong momentum in congressional races isn’t motivation enough, the Democrats have an added incentive this year: Several of the tightest congressional and gubernatorial races are in states with significant black populations, giving blacks in heavily minority districts an uncommon chance to tip statewide contests.
To rouse them, some organizers are applying aggressive tactics, including the use of openly racial invective directed at Republicans and Tea Party activists.
The brazen tactics reflect an increased willingness among some to throw sharper elbows this year, given the Republicans’ strong momentum and potential to take control of the House and gain seats in the Senate.
The charged messaging appears to be a “fight fire with fire” counter effort to what Democrats and some political analysts describe as a racist undercurrent in the rhetoric from Tea Party activists and Republican candidates and pundits.
“I do have a sense that there is a very aggressive push,” says David A. Bositis, senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank on black political issues. “There is a level of intensity there that, I think, could be quite significant in terms of the impact on the election. … The Republicans and the Tea Party have a lot of people associated with them who have said racist things. It’s a situation where two can play that game. They are not going to lie down and play dead.”