Educate, Organize, Mobilize – Over the past few weeks I’ve written about the prospects of a massive voter mobilization effort being essential for a successful November 2016. Among other things I discussed the leadership needed by Black elected officials and the voting rights protection role assumed by the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus (Caucus). Of course one of the most important responsibilities of our Black elected officials is the protection of our voting rights.
During our meeting of August 11th, Caucus members identified Advance NC as an entity that has been organizing for community and voter engagement and it was the sense of the Caucus to ask them to meet and discuss working together and possibly merging efforts. This effort appears to be coming together in a way that could lead to much more competitive races where Black and progressive votes matter.
During the evolution of our mobilization campaign it is important to define a specific action plan necessary for success and to identify the many organizations that will be involved. The sooner this can be done the sooner customized action plans can be developed and the sooner a coordination strategy can be adopted. Because of the size of our task and our limited resources time is of the essence.
Additionally, mobilization efforts need to include an emotional appeal to those that are familiar with centuries old struggles by Blacks for full citizenship rights, which include the right to vote. Without an emotional appeal many potential voters will fail to heed the call to action. We need emotions that reflect the kind of emotions that were evident in 2007 when President Obama was a candidate. Voters went well beyond their normal responses in elections and committed themselves to doing everything in their power to elect President Obama. We overcame long lines at the polls, made financial contributions, knocked on doors, manned telephone banks, worked polls, provided rides to the polls and did much, much more.
As I’ve noted before, it is my intention to write about our mobilization efforts as they evolve. I also noted that since September 2013, I have written nearly 90 commentaries related to voter suppression. The importance of that is the fact that our challenges have been addressed and considered in much greater detail than we were able to get into during the Caucus’ meeting. It was felt that now is the time to engage in aggressive outreach to other individuals and organizations that believe in and support our voting rights objectives.
Recent opinion polls show competitive races for some statewide offices and substantial leads in others (See link No. 1 below). In the North Carolina gubernatorial contest polls show Democrat Roy Cooper with a slight lead over incumbent Republican Governor Pat McCrory and Democrat Ken Spaulding slightly trailing him. Governor McCrory eventual challenger will be decided in a Democratic Party primary contest between Spaulding and Cooper.
Although no Democrat has formally announced for the US Senate race against Republican Richard Burr, polls suggest that Burr has a substantial lead in the polls over all of the Democrats that have been the subjects of speculation. However, the polls show that Burr is viewed very unfavorably and is therefore vulnerable in his race for re-election.
Robert Wilson and Linda Coleman have announced their candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor. One of them is likely to be nominated to run against incumbent Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest. Polls show that Forest has a comfortable lead over Linda Coleman, his Democratic opponent in the 2012 General Election.
The aforementioned polls are important reminders of the fact that none of the candidates have voter approval rates anywhere near 50% needed to get elected and are therefore likely to be involved in competitive campaigns leading up to the November 2016 General Elections. Democrats should be especially mindful of the fact that whatever their polls show, their supporters are going to be confronted with a wide array of voter suppression tactics that can only be overcome with a massive voter mobilization of Blacks and other progressive voters.
According to the Brennan Center (See link No. 2 below), statistics from recent elections suggest that the magnitude of the problem of voter suppression may not be far from the margin of victory in recent past elections. It is my opinion and that of many other informed observers that voter suppression defeated Kay Hagan. The reality is that without a massive mobilization, it will defeat many more Democrats in November 2016.
As I’ve written in the past, it is essential that Black elected officials take the lead in our mobilization efforts. Not every individual and organization will make the same contribution to this initiative, but it’s important that to the extent possible, all organizations and individuals define their respective roles to avoid duplication of efforts and wasted time and resources.
Also, as I’ve previously noted, the NC NAACP and Democracy NC are probably the leading entities that have organized opposition to voter suppression. Both would benefit from greater participation and community support. There are other organizations that are a part of the opposition to voter suppression but they are not nearly as visible as the NAACP and Democracy NC. Hopefully, we can coordinate our efforts in a way that compliments the efforts of Advance NC and end up with all the pieces that we need for our massive turnout efforts.
Another consensus outreach strategy is asking our religious community, fraternities, sororities and other organizations to hold voting rights forums at all of their upcoming events and to design voter rights engagement strategies that are customized to their specific organizational character and consistent with the position taken by the Caucus.
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