Obamacare may be the thorniest issue for the three. The law is a big liability with white independent voters and may become more so as inevitable problems crop up with its implementation. But the president’s namesake is beloved by the black community.
In Louisiana, where one-third of registered voters are black, a March poll from nonpartisan Southern Media and Opinion Research found that 56 percent of voters said Landrieu’s vote for Obamacare makes them less likely to vote for her. While 74 percent of whites said they are less inclined to back Landrieu because of her support, only 11 percent of blacks said so.
Former Rep. Charlie Melancon, the Democratic nominee for Senate in 2010, was a Blue Dog who opposed the Affordable Care Act.
“Part of my problem was a number of blacks that could have gotten out there and helped me said, ‘You voted against the president on Obamacare and energy,’” he recalled.
Democrats treat it as a given that they’ll sweep the black vote. They see the issue as the number, not the share, of African-Americans’ votes. So apathy is the enemy.
“I would say that it would be important that Sen. Hagan … [continues to] not be seen as running away from those difficult issues that might disproportionately affect those who are African-American or of color,” said Brad Thompson, the former state director for John Edwards.
Republicans, for their part, are touting their plans to make inroads among black voters. The Republican National Committee promises to hire African-American statewide directors and field staff in all three states. This is an outgrowth of the Growth and Opportunity Project, or “autopsy” report, after last fall’s losses.