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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Small Bump in Youth, Black Turnout Can Help Flip Nine States

Mike Dorning of the Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau reports on a new study by his newspaper indicating big gains in store for Dems if they can produce a modest increase in turnout of youth and African American voters. Dorning’s article, flagged by Facing South‘s Chris Kromm, has this to say about Obama’s prospects for picking up nine states Bush won in ’04:

If Obama could inspire just 10 percent more Democratic voters under 30 to go to the polls than did four years ago, that alone could be enough to switch Iowa and New Mexico from red to blue, the analysis suggests.
Just a 10 percent increase in turnout among blacks would make up more than 40 percent of George W. Bush’s 2004 victory margin in Ohio and more than 20 percent of the Republicans’ 2004 victory margin in Florida.
Turnout increases of 10 percent of both young voters and African-Americans could virtually eliminate the Republicans’ 2004 victory margin in Ohio and go a long way to closing the gap in Colorado, Nevada, Missouri, Virginia and—a bit more of a stretch—possibly North Carolina.
…A host of Republican states would come into play, while Democratic leads would be substantially cushioned in major blue states that the presumed Republican candidate John McCain has targeted: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Dorning points out that Black registration and general election turnout increased 11 percent in 1984, when Rev. Jesse Jackson ran for President in the primaries — even though Walter Mondale was the nominee. In addition, African American turnout in the ’08 primaries is double the ’04 figures, according to David Bositis of the Joint Center for Political Studies. (See also J.P. Green’s recent post on Black turnout) Dorning adds,

That potential helps explain why the Obama campaign chose to forgo federal funding and also why it is engaged in a massive voter registration drive. With its unprecedented resources, the campaign can fund an array of specific targeting operations, and Obama exploited early versions of those to great success during the primary campaign.

Dorning cautions that the Republicans are also improving their micro-targeting turnout operation that was so successful in key states like Ohio in ’04. However the scale of the Obama campaign’s voter registration drive and turnout effort will likely be unmatched.

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