The Black Vote
Jude Wanniski
August 14, 1996

 

Memo to: Scott Reed, Dole Campaign
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Black Vote

If you are really serious about breaking into Clinton's base in the African-American community, you absolutely must show that commitment by allocating a significant amount of money of your $72 million pot to black media which means radio stations and newspapers. As far as I know, the GOP presidential candidates have not done any of this going all the way back to the Eisenhower years. When I flew to San Diego on Sunday, I sat next to former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, who in his last race got 60% of the black vote, which I think is the highest percentage of any Republican in a statewide race in our time. We discussed the Ed Rollins assertions about paying off black ministers in Christie Whitman's '93 race in order to discourage black voter turnout. Rollins made it all up, but in fact Kean sadly acknowledged that there has been a don't-stir-up-the-black-vote mentality that has been part of GOP political strategies for many years. He said he got as many votes as he did by doing exactly that going into the black communities of the state and directly pitching for their votes. He said at the national level there would have to be paid media to reach the potential there the black and the Hispanic communities. My concern, based on past presidential campaigns I've been near, is that the professional consultants don't want to spend any money on black media because they make so little money on it, compared to their big buys in the electronic media where they get their 15% cuts. These are the guys who will say the more attention you give blacks, "stirring them up," the more likely they will come out and swamp you with Democratic votes.

If you can't find the money for this effort, you will be losing an enormous opportunity in this election year, as the Clinton administration has done an incredibly good job solidifying its base among minorities by running against "Dole/Gingrich." By choosing Jack as his running mate, Dole can wreck that battle plan, but he can't do it on the cheap. Resources have to be devoted to that effort. The right guy to involve in planning the general effort is Bob Woodson, who you know as well as anyone. I talked to him Tuesday morning and he said he thinks Dole/Kemp should be targeting 50% of the black vote, which is 45 points higher than Dole would get without Jack. Even if you only get 25%, it would be enough to swing the election, as a number that big would indicate similar losses throughout the Democratic ranks.

By the way, did you see Bob Herbert's column on Jack in Monday's New York Times! It was a disgraceful bit of demagoguery by the most visible black columnist in the nation characterizing Jack as the enemy of black Americans. This is the result of the panic in the Democratic establishment at what you guys can do if you devote serious attention and resources to the effort.