Much like the entertainer at a piano bar, I’m taking a request today.
James Protzman, who’s known as “Anglico” at the BlueNC site (for those of you not reading this at the BlueNC site) asked me to offer some ideas for NC Senate ’08.
What I’d like to do is bring some thoughts to the table, and see if the community might help flesh the thing out. So here we go…
Is Elizabeth Dole vulnerable in the ’08 Senate election?
I think she might be.
First, it seems North Carolina has experienced a considerable growth in urban population, and that a substantial portion of that growth is Hispanic population.
Who goes to Carowinds?
Lots of folks.
Who goes to that outlet mall across the street?
As it turns out, no one does.
Confirmation of Hispanic population growth is found in Census Bureau data sets. Check out the data for Mecklenburg, Union, Chatham, and Wake counties as examples-each has much higher than average population growth, and higher than State average Hispanic populations. In 1980, Hispanics represented 1% of the State’s total population.
Dole seems to be vulnerable to an “anti-immigrant” attack-based on her own website, for starters. Go to the site, and search for “Hispanic”, and this is what you get: a visit to a credit union and efforts to make sure illegal immigrants get out faster. There’s nothing about education or health care or the minimum wage legislation efforts, which are issues that matter to Hispanic families. (Searching for “Latino” only yields the last two results from the first search.)
This comment from unique at the BlueNC site is a tiny bit of anecdotal evidence to support the new voter point as well.
Another point of vulnerability seems to be the war and the treatment of veterans. Because of the issue of “Democratic ownership” that may appear as a result of efforts to end the war, I would concentrate on the treatment of veterans. As it turns out, there is an excellent geographic dispersal of VA facilities in the State, suggesting voters in rural Eastern and Western counties, who might not view Latino immigration as a positive for the State, could be captured with a “Why wasn’t Dole looking out for our troops?” argument.
How would a D candidate respond to an anti-immigrant voter segment, especially in a county such as Madison? An answer might be found in the Census data.
Did you know there seems to be an association between having a larger Hispanic population in your county and your county having a better economy? Check out Madison County’s income measurements, and percentage of persons in poverty, which are underperforming the State as a whole. Is it because of the geography? Perhaps. But look around the State: Bertie, Columbus, Buncombe (especially the city of Asheville), and Macon counties all reflect the same trend.
Which brings us back to Plaza Fiesta. The response to anti-Latino voters is that immigration is how you bring new jobs to your dead-broke town. Yes, it is going to change the community. But Latino families are often churchgoing, just like rural NC’s current residents; and in a family values State, Latino families with kids have the potential to be a strong voting bloc who share similar values with the folks who already live in small town North Carolina.
Check out Thomas Brock’s comments regarding NC’s House Bill 91, which would allow Election Day registration and voting. As he mentions, this will garner youth votes in the college and military communities-but it should also be effective at empowering Hispanic voters in the State as well.
What about Black voters? About 15% of NC's population is Black and of voting age. There seems to be a good possibility that the Rs will not carry a huge number of voters in this community, so participation in voting seems to be the way to harvest the most votes from this group.
Black folks tend to be represented in the military, especially the infantry, in disproportionate numbers to the general population, and they will soon be a growing proportion of the VA client population as well. Remind mothers that their kids need them to vote. Remind black churches to turn out for their kids. Dole has not been there for the veterans, and they need to look out for their family’s veterans now. Mothers Opposing Bush, an organization referenced by Thomas Brock, is an example of a group for a D candidate to associate with.
There seems to be a Katrina problem for Dole as well.
Her management of the Red Cross, in 2002, was not successfully exploited as an issue. But since Katrina, the opportunity has reared its ugly head again.
How many who suffered after Katrina from an inadequate Red Cross response are aware her development of an unwieldy board has hurt the agency to this very day?
Since 2006, she also apparently has a fundraising problem. The New York Times ran an article titled “In G.O.P. Fund-Raising, Dole's Star Power Dims” in July of last year, and I’ll be digging deeper into the question as we move along in this process.
So let me suggest some strategy we might apply.
First, association with Veteran’s and Latino organizations; with the goal of attending the Labor Day picnics of these new friends as a strong supporter.
Next, hit the returning college students with voter registration, using the Election Day option only as a fallback. Try to get them to volunteer to join other activists in rounding up unregistered Latino and Black voters.
This puts you in a position to enter the end of ’07 hustling votes, and from here you can begin to talk about Dole’s record to an ever-widening audience. The ’08 Presidential primaries will be heating up in a big way, and the War (and its effect on Veterans) will be a giant issue for Dole to have to explain away.
Economic opportunity, and why NC is falling behind, is the next issue to exploit, and you have 7 to 9 months of ’08 to build the discussion before the last push to the debates, and then the voting.
So there’s my first attempt at a strategy.
Feel free to add some ideas to the conversation, and let’s see if we can develop something that can take Dole out in this cycle.