A Student of Color Can Be Mayor Someday #2R1WM #MoreThanAvote

The right candidate tapped into this powerful coalition

A look back at how we got here…

 Almost a decade ago, America experienced a tragedy that tested the spirit of the entire nation, especially one of our most historic cities–Boston. That city was indeed resilient, so was no doubt that this senseless act of violence would only catalyze their renaissance. As our thoughts and prayers went out to the families affected by that terrible event, they were already showing signs of bouncing back.

 As Boston grappled with the economic, cultural, and judicial effects of that event, the political dynamics surrounding the city’s future were beginning to solidify. Remember that their population increased significantly in the ten years prior. Yes, Boston grew 4.8% to 617,594, and it had over 85,000 “key” Voters of Color, but that only explains part of the story.

 To understand Boston, you have to understand its historical role in shaping American politics. Their reputation for producing national leaders is a civic marvel and the stuff of political legends. Progressive Whites and People of Color (POC) are central to this history and have many stories to share about their “Pre-Civil War” Beacon Hill community. They will tell you with pride about the African Meeting House – the oldest surviving African American church tower in the nation – where notables such as Fredrick Douglass and Sojourner Truth waged many early civil rights battles alongside progressive Whites.

 Present-day, they will tell you how surreal it feels to watch President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Governor Patrick, and their current Mayor serve as civic leaders. Not to mention how amazing it must be to see their beloved city embrace people of color as American leaders. Especially Bostonians living in neighborhoods like Roxbury and Dorchester- two majority-minority communities – are excited about the changing face of politics. It’s truly a new day when multiple POC candidates ran for Mayor and city council and won.

 Of course, it’s tricky to measure the political effect this set of events will have on the consciousness of the national electorate–however, there are signs. While “flashpoint” political impressions are hard to quantify, the fundamentals of Boston began to solidify years ago:

  • There were over 600,000 people living in Boston – 17% Latino, 24% African American, and 9% Asian.
  • At least four city council members in the race for Mayor in 2013 – a crowded field leaving plenty of open council seats.
  • The 2009 Mayoral race recorded about 101,000 votes – a small universe of voters.
  • The 2011 at-large city council race recorded a little more than 170,000 votes.

There were a lot of candidates running for Mayor in 2013, and that split the independent vote share at least four ways. However, it was Voters of Color who were affected the most. That race created a path to elect a Person of Color as Mayor with the right candidate, message, and brilliant voter registration and turnout program.

 Please make no mistake, it took a block by block community organizing effort, but Bostonians have a history of voting for the candidate representing their interests. They’ve been waiting with eager anticipation for the opportunity to vote for a candidate that dares to stand up for all Americans. Just as in Patrick’s governor’s race, the right candidate tapped into this powerful coalition of progressive Whites and Voters of Color.

 The marathon tragedy brought together this patriotic city like never before, and the positive energy that Bostonians projected became the catalyst for positive change in their politics.


Kirk Clay is the President of Capitol View Advisors — a collaborative acting on its values in creative and strategic ways to connect communities with the information and resources they need to support and further their aspirations.

Students of Color Represent More Than A Turning of the Tide #2R1WM #MoreThanAvote

A look back at how we got here…

 Over the years, there have been many uplifting moments for progressive whites, young people, women, and people of color. The past few elections have been filled with energetic political events, parades, and plenty of moments that did more than entertain; they inspired. Many things are different now, but some things we can count on. 

 The progressive network now has a unique opportunity to expand, deepen, and strengthen its proven game-changing system, which records students of color. As demonstrated in 2020, these young voters have the power to elect candidates — including African Americans — to the mayor’s office, state capitals, U.S. Congress, and the White House. On the horizon is the critical 2022 midterm elections, where candidates of color are poised to become U.S. Senators if this voter power is tapped.

 Senator Cory Booker represents a perfect example of what can happen in 2022. His state of New Jersey — once known as the “pathway of the revolution,” is still a symbol of patriotism. Booker’s use of Twitter to rescue a freezing dog was an example of this new pathway. It demonstrated how new media, politics, and old-fashioned values could create a new brand of social patriotism.

 New Jersey has experienced significant demographic changes, which have impacted its political environment. The state has the seventh-largest Latino population in the United States. Nearly 25% of N.J.’s registered voters are VOC, with the majority of them Democrats. Among voters who are not registered, about 33% are people of color. That means close to 32% of New Jersey’s low propensity voters are VOC.

 How does the fact that voters of color constitute a significant vote share affect New Jersey politics? One example is Senator Booker doing well against other possible candidates for his 2014 U.S. Senate race. As a result, new Jersey Democrats overwhelmingly supported Mr. Booker over Rep. Frank Pallone, Rep. Rob Andrews, and State Senate President Steven Sweeney. As a result, new Jersey voters wanted to elect Cory Booker to the U.S. Senate by a margin of two to one.

 What’s drove his numbers? Booker’s advantages were across geography, populations, and issues. Also, his social media savvy helped to keep his brand strong and get his message out. As mentioned above, after seeing a tweet about a freezing dog, Booker took immediate action to rescue the man’s best friend. That kind of social patriotism resonates strongly with voters.

 By contrast, Pallone, Sweeney, and Andrews were not very well-known among the state’s registered voters, despite Pallone and Andrews having represented N.J. in Congress for over two decades each, and Sweeney leading the state’s legislature.

 Understanding the nature of student of color civic engagement is essential in today’s new political landscape. Authenticity may have been a second-tier concern in the past, but it has become the loadstone of demographic politics. Appealing to pockets of voters was once relegated to the campaign’s “base vote” operation. Now it has become the soul of tactical electoral strategy. Campaigns are beginning to understand that the most effective way to expand the electorate and mobilize communities of color is with conduits that intimately understand those communities.

 There are a few ways to ensure that voters of color achieve their 31% vote share from past elections. The common denominator is the candidate. Every political leader must engage communities of color with authenticity and social patriotism. For some, embracing the new realities of politics will require them to change. Over time they will find it easier to step outside of their comfort zones and themselves. Then their actions will make a difference for others and themselves because it is the responsible thing to do. #2R1WM #MoreThanAvote

Will We Help Students of Color Take Advantage of Their New Influence In Congress? #2R1WM #MoreThanAvote

A look back at how we got here….

There are certainly plenty of reasons for America to celebrate the beginning of the winter season:

  1. This is the time we recognize Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday.
  2. Winter represents a time in American history when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
  3. This is the season we witnessed the inauguration of the nation’s first African American President.

That inauguration reminded us that to realize our dreams; we have to participate! A year ago, voters of color (VOC) joined other Americans to decide how the government would address the most pressing issues of our times. As the result of dramatic demographic changes, voters of color made the difference in many areas around the country—electing candidates to office who now have the political support to embrace progressive policies. These voters have become the leverage elected officials need to keep campaign promises and support a plan that will have a far-reaching impact on this nation.

In short, the next few years are about more than just a mandate. It is about who voted and the role they are going to play in politics. Much like the Tea Party in 2010, the new coalition of progressive whites, Latinos, African Americans, Asians, Native Americans, women, youth, and unions are poised to change the way America invests in the economy. Also, how we extract and repurpose revenue ensures that the government continues expanding democracy to everyone living in America.

Like the winter of 2012, when Congress had over 18 new members of color joining other progressive Congress members to shape our legislative process. They came from states with significant VOC populations like California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, and Texas.

So how did that affect Congress? Most of the 18 new members were from districts where Democrats received outsized support from progressive whites and VOC in key precincts. This support from voters helped Congress members offset most of the political deficits they could’ve faced while compromising and deal-making. This made it difficult for the other side to sustain an obstructionist strategy without publically appearing to be “sore losers.”

Moreover, the President had the bully pulpit. Like in the 2012 campaign, the new coalition of progressive voters made it possible to expand the political map at critical points in the legislative cycle. For example, President Obama’s support in California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico built a legislative firewall during policy negotiations. Simply put, a party will not survive in this new political landscape if it loses favorability from VOC by a 3 to 1 margin.

In the end, we have to remind ourselves that all politics are local. Any party that successfully reached unique pockets of voters during the 2022 campaign will have an advantage in 2023. They can easily overwhelm the other side by amplifying this new coalition’s influence. All it would take is a combination of traditional civic engagement tactics with 21st-century data-driven technology. This strategy of micro-targeting voters by specific issues was used in Ohio in 2012 and proved to be impactful — it delivered a decisive victory for the progressive coalition. For example, the VOC vote share increased to 19% of the 2012 electorate from 16% in 2008.

It’s time to get ready for the next generation, the new Congress, the new coalition of progressive voters, and another historic moment. This winter America honors Martin Luther King, Jr. as the world remembers the inauguration of President Obama. It was also a defining moment for people of color. For the first time since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, their votes had a profound influence on the political landscape of America. We now have an opportunity to govern with a more forward set of strategies. This makes it easier for students of color to support the policies we believe in. #2R1WM

Students of color are the answer #MoreThanAvote #2R1WM #MakeElectionDayAHoliday

“Most fear stems from sin; to limit one’s sins, one must assuredly limit one’s fear, thereby bringing more peace to one’s spirit.” – Marvin Gaye.

I believe young voters of color could be the sweet spot in civic engagement next year. Last week I had the privilege of connecting with a young NAACP organizer. We discussed strategies to bounce back from this global pandemic, economic, civil, and human rights crisis. He asked if we’ll ever see the kinds of organizing training that was common pre-pandemic. “You know the mass teaching events that attracted tons of media and thousands of attendees? With an audience that included members of Congress, mayors, and local councilpersons?” 

While in those trainings, a person could catch up with old friends, distant colleagues and meet up with mentors. We would talk about the movement and discuss ways to address civic empowerment issues like redistricting and receive powerful advice. “When life presents more challenges than you can handle, delegate to God. He not only has the answer, He is the answer.”

Young activists have and always will rely on mentorship. As voters, they also benefit from a different kind of mentorship — knowing family members working over fifty-five hours a week and learning about the issues they deal with. Maybe that’s why they get so disappointed with the current redistricting process. While politicians choose who will vote for them, young people realize that they and their hard-working family members are being left out of the process.

What the long-term effects of leaving young people out of the process? Will this widen the gap with young Voters of Color (VOC) on Election Day? Will it solidify positive movement or become a hurdle for young voters of color next year?

Looking at studies from key districts and the last round of redistricting, we are on track to have a similar electorate as the previous decade, where the youth could make up 18% of the vote. As witnessed last year, an energized young VOC electorate can be the difference in multiple races. This is key for understanding the next decade of voting results.

For example, while voters under 30 were 17% of the electorate for both Ohio and New Jersey in 2008, that number dropped for New Jersey to 9% in 2009. The same is true for young voters in Virginia; they were 21% of the electorate in 2008 and only 10% in 2009. Why? A substantial number of young VOCs decided to stay home.

What is the possible impact on future elections? If a politician leads their challenger among 18-29-year-old African Americans 91%-6% and Latinos 73%-13%. More importantly, if 59% of African Americans and 31% of Latinos are enthusiastic about voting, the political landscape becomes favorable for NAACP supporters. If the base of support from young voters on “major issues” like immigration reform is at least 45% – 25%, then they will see substantial support from young voters of color. 

These numbers will be even more critical in places like New Jersey, where VOC is 31% of New Jersey’s citizen voting-age population. They comprised 28% avg. of the electorate in recent elections. By comparison, in 2010, Hudson county’s population grew by 4% to 634,266, and Jersey City’s population increased by 3% to 247,597. This is a majority Latino, African American, and Asian American city and has well over 95,000 essential VOC.

Looking deeper, you can see how engaging young people during redistricting can positively impact the future of civic engagement. For many, voting provides a sense of independence, responsibility, and purpose. In addition, if politicians are lucky enough to gain their support, they benefit from their vote and their ideas.

It’s always a momentous occasion when a young person votes for the first time. This is one of the first meaningful investments they will make for their future. The funny thing is that it will be a massive investment in America’s future as well. 

To be continued …

Kirk Clay is the President of Capitol View Advisors — a collaborative investing and acting on its values in creative and strategic ways to connect communities with the information and resources they need to support and further their aspirations.

Students of color can attract into their life all their wants and needs #MoreThanAvote #2R1WM #MakeElectionDayAHoliday

“Who are they to judge us, simply because our hair is long?” – Marvin Gaye.

As the saying goes, so goes our youth, so goes the nation. So if we help them, we help ourselves. All it will take is empowering them to advocate for themselves and self-management tools. The truth is that they can attract into their lives all their wants and needs by following the Five D’s: Decide what they want, Determine to make it happen, Diligently Do everything in their power to achieve the goal, and Detach themselves from the result and repeat.

What they can’t control is redistricting, and just like the 2010 cycle, it’s essential to get this right. What were the dynamics at play in places like New Jersey back then? Political experts noticed a philosophical and political trend that may give us an idea of what to do now. It seems that voters in New Jersey were becoming fundamentally different from voters in places like Ohio. It’s not incidental that voters in both states embraced policies supporting working-class men and women and rejected policies that centered around the “virtues of selfishness.” Adding to the mix, there were sizable shifts in New Jersey’s population that created a significant demographic trend.

Being selfish doesn’t just prove a lack of empathy; it demonstrates a lack of common sense leaving the rest of us to do everything in our power to achieve justice.

We saw the impact of voters of color (VOC) when we looked at Middlesex County, where the progressive politicians were defeated for the first time in decades, 47% to 45%. Note that the population in that county, which includes New Brunswick, had grown 8% and was 10% African American, 18% Latino, and 21% Asian Pacific Islander.

This dynamic played a significant role in New Jersey, where VOC were 25% of the electorate in 2009 and 30% in 2010. Census data showed cities like New Brunswick grew 2.3% to 55,181 and had well over 14,000 key VOCs on the voter rolls. Information like that impacted the entire redistricting process for the state.

Looking forward to future redistricting, the fundamentals are beginning to take shape. Though no one can predict what will happen, one thing is true — the American electorate has already started to demonstrate the impact of their changing demographics. Therefore, any politician with an effective strategy to embrace students of color will find themselves well-positioned to impact the political world.

There is no doubt that young Latino and African American voters will impact future elections. The truth is, they have always been significant threads in the political fabric of this nation and continue to become more valuable every decade. Therefore, the sooner students of color figure out their wants and needs, the better. That’s probably the best part of our democracy; their collective vote represents our guiding and future beliefs. If everyone casts a ballot, it doesn’t matter where they come from, their zip code, or how they got here. They are all worthy of respect and deserve the right to cast and have their ballots counted. Likewise, putting self-interest before compassion is not an American value; it’s selfish. Being selfish doesn’t just prove a lack of empathy; it demonstrates a lack of common sense leaving the rest of us to do everything in our power to achieve justice.

To be continued …

Kirk Clay is the President of Capitol View Advisors — a collaborative investing and acting on its values in creative and strategic ways to connect communities with the information and resources they need to support and further their aspirations.