Even before the major distraction this week caused by the remarks of black liberation theologist and former Obama pastor Jeremiah Wright, black voters in Indiana have been feeling ignored. While both Democratic presidential candidates have been jockeying for the rural, working-class white voters who make up much of Indiana’s electorate, they have been largely absent from predominantly black neighborhoods that have historically been among the party’s strongholds. For much of the campaign in Indiana, as well as around the country, many black voters feel there has been little effort to engage them on issues that have particular impact in the black community, such as the home foreclosure and HIV crises.
I’ve been wondering about this. I’m disappointed that so far, Obama seems to be taking Indianapolis for granted. He hasn’t had many appearances there, while he does seem to be jockeying for the white, blue-collar crowd that loves Hillary, and that’s OK, I guess. But if he wants to win this state, or even make it close, he must mobilize and motivate black voters to vote in record numbers and for him.
Much is at stake for the Democrats. While blacks account for barely 9% of Indianans, they are a crucial constituency neither candidate can afford to alienate, or take for granted. Indeed, some locals are pointing to the way Obama conducted his campaign in Pennsylvania as an object lesson. At one point, the Illinois Senator was asked about his lack of activity in Philadelphia’s black neighborhoods and told the Philadelphia Daily News, “I’m a big believer in going to places where you’re weak, not where you’re strong, and reaching out to people you might not otherwise expect to vote for you.” Days later, after Obama failed to carry Philadelphia by a large enough margin to compensate for losses elsewhere in the state, the newspaper ran a story with the headline, “Did Obama blow the election by blowing off Philly?”
Will he lose Indiana by blowing off Indy? Quite possibly.
Hoosiers, you know what to do (and WTF is an Indianan?).