The Political Ironist: The Jax Message to Hillary

September 9, 2016 5 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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While Hillary Clinton hopped in the Hamptons from mansion to mansion appearing at parties and dinners in the company of Jimmy Buffet and Paul McCartney and receiving contributions from $1,000 to $100,000, the tune coming out of Jacksonville resonated within her campaign like a dirge.

Young African-American voters in the River City and Cleveland were the target of four focus groups conducted recently by a joint “super PAC” between organized labor and the billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, and a progressive group called Project New America. The super PAC sought to assess their sentiments toward Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton. Not surprising, the results found that the young black voters held no affection towards the Republican presidential nominee, but revealingly, their sentiments toward Mrs. Clinton were just as negative with trust being a major factor. Their skepticism appears to be rooted in a deep discomfort with the political establishment that they believe the 68-year-old former first lady and secretary of state represents. They share a lingering suspicion of Mrs. Clinton and her husband over criminal justice issues, especially in a year that has given birth to “Black Lives Matter.”

Read Focus Group Study Here

This is concerning to the DNC as it knows the number of young African-Americans that show up to vote has profound implications for this election. Sure, Mrs. Clinton will dominate Trump among black voters, but her decisive margin could ultimately matter less than the total number of blacks who show up to vote in their effort to win the down ballot.

The DNC thought Mrs. Clinton’s contest with Trump – who’s done himself no favors with biased comments on immigration and recent revelations of discrimination towards blacks in his real New York real estate holdings – was coming up all “7s” in the bid to ensure a large black voter turnout. But it turns out the Clinton name does not carry the cachet it once had among African-American voters, especially young ones, who, at least in Jacksonville, are paying attention and plugged into the political issues of the day.

Cyrus Quaranta, a local black musician and long-time activist for minority representation in Jacksonville told me the results of the focus groups do not surprise him.
“Hillary has done nothing to appeal to black voters except rely on her association with Obama and Bill’s presidency, which was popular until her husband’s policies on policing were recently brought into question,” he said. “Honestly, Trump has done more to seek the support of African-American voters, but his methods are insincere.”

Quaranta believes neither candidate wants to address the issue that could really rally young black voters, criminal justice reform. “They don’t want to jeopardize their conservative base chasing after a group of voters (18-35 African-Americans) who have a historically poor voting record.”  

While Mr. Trump continues to follow up his missteps with miscues and changes campaign managers as often as Lady Gaga switches outfits in her ArtRave tour, Mrs. Clinton has been content to put her campaign on cruise control while she visits the Hamptons and Palm Spring collecting substantial contributions from well-heeled donors.

The focus group results may cause her to slow her Mustang down and pay visit to a few black communities to offer a little more substance than the Clinton brand name. Perhaps, her next Jacksonville stop could yield a solid script for the Westside rather than a soiree at Sawgrass.

Written by Mike Bernos

Mike Bernos  is an award an“winning journalist, having written for among others, ABC News, Gannett News, USA Today, Florida Trend and Christian Science Monitor. He is the author of three books and a songwriter whose works appear on Pandora, Sirius XM, and Spotify. He lives in Riverside.