I Think Democrats Are Making A Mistake In Alabama

I don’t like the Democratic African-American outreach strategy for Democrat Doug Jones’ senate campaign (boldface mine):

The 75-year-old retired UPS worker had come to cheer on Democrat Doug Jones in a campaign that has captured national attention. Has it also generated energy in Alabama’s African American communities?

“As of this day, I would say no,” said Williams, who is black. “And this is Doug Jones’s problem. He’s got to get out and get the voters energized.”

…Yet, in interviews in recent days, African American elected officials, community leaders and voters expressed concern that the Jones campaign’s turnout plan was at risk of falling short.

…As a result, Jones and his allies are waging an aggressive outreach campaign. It includes targeted radio and online advertisements, billboards and phone calls. Campaign aides are debating whether to ask former first lady Michelle Obama to record a phone message for black voters.

The message emphasizes that Jones prosecuted two Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a black church in Birmingham in 1963

The Jones campaign said it has placed about 40 billboards across the state, some of which show photographs of the four young black girls who were killed in the 1963 church bombing.

One recent ad on R&B radio recounts Jones’s closing arguments as the lead prosecutor in the case…

Meanwhile, the campaign is targeting online ads at younger African Americans by focusing more on jobs and education.

I think the emphasis on the prosecution–which is a righteous act–is missing the point. If Ohioan black voters (and non-voters) are any indication (and they might not be), the top issues are jobs, economic anxiety, and healthcare, with public safety and policing a distant trailer. Since Jones does need to attract white votes, I wouldn’t expect him to emphasis policing issues (though, if a successful district attorney can’t thread the needle on this, who can?). Reciting your resume, even if it is strong, isn’t the same as telling people how you’re going to make their lives better. People don’t really want to hear how awesome you are, they want to hear how awesome (or at least not as sucky) they will be if they vote for you. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that’s not limited to younger voters too.

The good news is that Jones seems to have enough money. Now just use it wisely.

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