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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

A Key to Passing HCR: Black Voters in Blue Dog Districts

Given the G.O.P.’s oft-stated intention to “destroy” or otherwise end President Obama’s re-election chances by killing health care reform, you have to wonder if some undecided Democratic House members with a substantial African American population in their districts could be encouraged to vote for HCR. The following House members who have been identified as undecided on HCR by The Hill (see our TDS post here) and other sources have double-digit, or near double-digit percentages of African American constituents:
John Barrow (D-GA) 44.5
Steve Driehaus (Ohio) 36.5
John Spratt (S.C.) 32.3
Tom Perriello (Va.) 24.1
Mike Doyle (Pa.) 22.7
John Tanner (Tenn.) 22.4
Marion Berry (Ark.) 16.6
Russ Carnahan (Mo.) 9.1
Mary Jo Kilroy (Ohio) 8.7
(percentages come from nationalatlas.gov, via Wikipedia demographic figures for congressional districts)
Democratic candidates for congress count on receiving upwards of 80 percent of votes cast by African Americans in their districts, and in some cases they would be in trouble if this percentage were to significantly decline or if Black voter turnout in their districts were to tank dramatically. Clearly, African American organizations and media in their districts could be an influential force, using some form of the following pitch to their Reps: “If you vote to help the G.O.P. try to end President Obama’s re-election chances, we will do everything we can to substantially reduce your support among African American voters.”
Yes, this is serious hardball. But the damage done by the potential failure of HCR would be very damaging to Dem chances, not only this year, but in ’12 as well.

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