Democrats are certainly focused heavily on this year's ground game, and African-American turnout is a big part of that.
The Democrats’ plan to hold on to their narrow Senate majority goes by the name “Bannock Street project.” It runs through 10 states, includes a $60 million investment and requires more than 4,000 paid staff members [...]This is good stuff, because:
They hope to make the 2014 midterm election more closely resemble a presidential election year, when more traditional Democratic constituencies — single women, minorities and young voters — turn out to vote in higher numbers, said Guy Cecil, the committee’s executive director.
“Television is a fundamentally persuasive medium, and by transferring those resources to targeted mobilization, you see a party whose path to victory goes through changing the electorate, not through winning over the opinion of typical off-year voters,” Mr. Issenberg said. “Campaigns are realizing that the smartest way to win the next vote is by mobilizing a nonvoter than by trying to win over a voter.”In other words, stop chasing after those "undecided" or "independent" voters, and focus on getting our supporters to the polls. There are more of us than there are of them. If we turn out, we win. The DSCC certainly appreciates that and is pouring real money into the ground game.
Head below the fold for a look at the states that could be decided by the African-American vote.
Louisiana (32 percent of population)
African Americans may make up nearly one third of the state's population, and they're the entire reason Sen. Mary Landrieu is in office. She won the black vote 96-2, while losing the white vote 65-33. Democrats estimate that 185,000 African Americans voted in 2012 who did not vote in 2010, and another 228,000 are not registered to vote.
Incidentally, Romney won Louisiana by 17 points, which is a blowout. But in the popular vote, he won by just 300,000. A more robust African-American turnout wouldn't change the results given the extreme GOP bent of the state's white voters, but it would make for a much more competitive environment. And given how close this election is expected to be, Democrats will need as many of those votes as they can bank.
Georgia (30 percent of population)
With polls showing the race neck and neck between Democrat Michelle Nunn and a gaggle of assorted GOP crazies, picking off this Republican-held open seat would crush the GOP's Senate dreams. I've seen estimates between 572,000 and 700,000 unregistered African Americans in the state. Democrats estimate that another 375,000 African Americans voted in 2012 but not in 2010.
In 2008, Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss won his seat in a runoff by 57-43. Not very close, right? In the popular vote, the difference was 300,000 votes. President Barack Obama lost the state by eight points in 2012. The popular vote difference was 300,000 votes.
You can do the math.
North Carolina (21 percent of population)
Unlike Georgia and Louisiana, the Obama campaign worked hard in 2008 and 2012 to identify, register, and turnout hundreds of thousands of African Americans. The challenge here will be to minimize off-year dropoff. There are no 2010 exit polls for North Carolina, so we don't have precise data to point to, but of course 2010 was a brutal year for Democrats in the state, not so much in 2008 or the evenly matched 2012. Virginia proved last year that it could maintain African-American turnout in a non-presidential election. Dems are working hard to repeat that success in the Tarheel State.
Arkansas (15 percent of population)
While African Americans are 15 percent of the state's population, they were 12 percent of voters in 2008 and 11 percent in 2010 (no exit polling available for 2012). Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor is the most likely incumbent to lose in 2014. His chances go to zero if black voters don't turn out.
Kentucky (8 percent)
We've all seen the polling showing a neck and neck race against incumbent Sen. and Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell. While making up eight percent of the population, African Americans were just six percent of the 2010 electorate. Would another two points be enough to make up Democrat Jack Conway's 155,000-vote gap against the winner, Rand Paul? No. But we're seeing a much tighter race this year, so those extra points will be far more important.
African-American voters also hit double digits in Virginia (19 percent, though it won't be competitive this year) and Michigan (14 percent). Core base turnout is critical. If African Americans (and Latinos, Asians, single women, and young voters) turn out, we hold the Senate and do so easily. But that won't happen. Our job is to make sure we bleed as little as possible, thus minimizing our potential losses.