POP THE CLUTCH, START A VOTING MACHINE

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Political Geography May Impact Presidential Race

By Kirk Clay

Not long ago, I was in Atlanta to speak on civil rights strategies for redistricting. While there, I visited friends who work in the hip-hop community.  We began to talk about the implications that the dramatic population shifts will have on voting patterns in 2012.  The Census 2010 data confirmed that it is possible for this President to get the 270 electoral votes for his re-election.  With adequate resources and a cooperative spirit, the African American/Latino political movement has the potential to change the historic voting patterns in states like Arizona and Georgia. 

Some of my friends were not convinced.  They remembered what happened during this past year when targeted messages and partisan mobilization campaigns by conservatives “drowned out” our voice. In the process, we damaged our AAA credit rating.  And we lost traction during a time of recovery.  My friends felt that our movement might not be able to stand up to this group of extreme obstructionist.

I don’t believe all is loss.  First, this is an election year. There is clear evidence that increased civic participation by communities of color can offset any conceivable lag in progressive voter turnout.  For example, according to a study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the African American share of the total vote in Illinois increased from 10 percent in 2006 to 19 percent in 2010.  Due to this strong turnout, a candidate who embraced progressive views became governor with only one-third of the white vote.

The same was true for Latinos in Colorado, and Nevada. In Nevada where Latinos represent 16% of the vote share, 69% voted for the progressive Senate candidate. This was an increase of 4% over the 2006 turnout. In Colorado, Latinos were an impressive 12% of the vote share and pushed the progressive candidate over the top.

I believe that with proper resources and political momentum, people of color can impact voter turnout rates. If we close the gaps between the populations that are eligible and likely voters, we will have a better chance of regaining our voice and enacting progressive policies. For example a progressive candidate could win Georgia with just 41% of the White vote and Arizona with just 37%.

We finished our conversation by reaching the conclusion that African Americans and Latinos are bonded and there are similarities in terms of history and culture.  We have and can continue to come together to develop transformational relationships that dramatically impact politics, culture, and economics. We agreed that by embracing our commonality and addressing our differences we can seize the moment to build our bridge of promise.

We must always remember that the local political machines have never just been about Whites and African Americans. Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans have always existed and participated. Their expanding share of the electorate shouldn’t create anxiety in political circles; rather it should reinforce America’s steadfastness for a new all-inclusive brand of politics. That’s popping the clutch.

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Kirk Clay is Senior Advisor at PowerPAC

 

Author: Kirk Clay Sr.

Kirk Clay Sr. is a Senior Advisor, Analyst and Strategist. Currently, he leads many efforts. He is responsible for the strategic and operational leadership of Capitol View Advisors. This includes publicly representing the collaborative, overseeing acquisition and guiding the overall program implementation with institutional and individual contributors. Before that, Kirk Clay served as a Senior Advisor to PowerPAC+ where he built and led management systems, structures, and measures for the “start-up” business. Recently, he led an independent expenditure to elect U.S. Senator Cory Booker. Also, he served as the national field director during the 2008 primary season where he raised $10 million and led an effort that mobilized more than 500,000 voters in ten states. Between 2008 and 2011, Mr. Clay was the National Civic Engagement Director for the NAACP where he was responsible for developing and implementing political research, advocacy and training agenda. Under his leadership, the NAACP executed three 4.0 style voter mobilization campaigns and a national census effort to increase civic participation rates in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Mr. Clay’s background includes serving as the Treasurer for the PTA, Director of Outreach for Common Cause, Deputy Director for the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Deputy Field Director for People For the American Way, Vice Chair of the Census Information Center Steering Committee, Lead Trainer / Administrator for Democratic National Committee, White House Intern and Senior Advisor. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and three children. His hobbies include traveling, cooking, and listening to jazz. He is a popular political blogger and is active on twitter @kirkclay and Blog: kirkclay.com capitolviewadvisors.com

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