Democrats need to bring out black voters in at least four key states to keep control of the Senate, party workers and leaders believe, but President Barack Obama, the one person who could attract that demographic, is largely staying off the campaign trail as his popularity continues to drop.
Instead, Obama is staying behind at the White House and recording advertisements, radio interviews, and phone calls to target the African-American base while other prominent black elected officials do the in-person appearances, reports The New York Times
According to pollster Cornell Belcher, the work to attract black voters will be more difficult this year than in 2008 and 2012, when Obama was running for office.
"African-American surge voters came out in force in 2008 and 2012, but they are not well positioned to do so again in 2014," Belcher, a former pollster for Obama, wrote in a confidential memo, dated Oct. 1 and obtained by the Times. "In fact, over half aren't even sure when the midterm elections are taking place."
Belcher also predicted "crushing Democratic losses across the country" if the party did not do more to get out the black vote.
"Anybody who looks at the data realizes that if the black vote, and the brown vote, doesn't turn out, we can't win. It's just that simple," said Rep. Marcia L. Fudge of Ohio, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, in a reference both to African-American and Latino voters. "If we don't turn out, we cannot hold the Senate."
However, many Latinos are angry with Obama for delaying his promised executive action on immigration until after the Nov. 4 midterm election, rather than enacting it at the end of summer as he'd promised.
And one Latino community leader, Carmen Velasquez, who runs a network of medical clinics in Chicago that serves mostly illegal immigrants, called in a Politico opinion piece
for Colorado, Florida, Arkansas, and North Carolina to penalize the Democratic Party and President Obama by sitting out the election.
Meanwhile, African-American voters could swing tight elections in the southern states of Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and possibly Arkansas, according to a New York Times analysis.
The black vote could also be vital in Kentucky, as Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes
refuses to say if she voted for Obama, who is deeply unpopular in the state because of federal actions affecting the coal industry. Several black leaders say her stance could affect the voter turnout.
Republicans are fighting for the black vote, too, expanding their efforts in the South while keeping in mind Obama's 2012 victory, credited to the massive turnout of African-American voters.
But fewer voters come out for midterm elections in 2010, when fewer blacks than whites voted, and Democrats lost several elections in what was then credited as a tea party wave for Republicans.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has spent $60 million this year alone on what has been called the Bannock Street project, an effort to target potential voters and hold onto the Democrats' close Senate majority in the Nov. 4 midterms.
In Georgia, for example, Democrats found 600,000 unregistered African-American voters in a state where black voters make up a third of all registered voters.
And in Louisiana, Democrats are working to enlist more than 600 black and religious leaders to help register voters in hopes of helping incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu keep her Senate seat.
Former President Bill Clinton, who remains popular with black voters, is also jumping into the midterm fray. He visited two heavily African-American cities in Arkansas, Pine Bluff and West Memphis, over the weekend and is heading to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Monday.
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