With Republicans confident of reclaiming control of the U.S. Senate, Democrats are looking to black voters in two southern states to help preserve their majority.
Early voting totals suggest reasons for optimism for Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Democratic hopeful Michelle Nunn in Georgia, as returns from both states show strong turnout in majority Democratic, heavily African-American urban counties. Nunn must offset Republican advantages among whites by having blacks account for about 30 percent of the ballots cast, while Hagan needs the African-American share of the total vote to approach 23 percent, the level it reached in 2008 and 2012.
Republicans say that a sour national mood benefits them, and they insist that early turnout deficits mean only that reliable Democrats are voting early and not changing the bottom line. Either way, both sides agree that black turnout will help decide the contests, and neither side is shying away from race in the campaign’s final days.
“There’s a lot of an angry white man out there,” singer-songwriter Patti Austin told a crowd of several hundred black voters in Georgia. “And they’re old. And they’re trying to hang on to their pots of gold. So go vote.”