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  • Dr. Julianne Malveaux

ELECTION REFLECTIONS – IGNORE THE POLLSTERS, CHALLENGE THE DEMOCRATS




To let the pollsters tell it, Democrats were going to get a "drubbing" or a

"shellacking" just like the one President Barack Obama experienced in 2010 when

Dems lost 63 Congressional seats and 6 Senate seats. In contrast, Democrats seem to

have gained one Senate seat, and the Georgia runoff may push the number up to

two. There was no "wave" hardly even a red puddle. Despite President Bide's

tepid ratings and economic uncertainty, Democrats did not do badly. As of this

writing, the partisan makeup of the House of Representatives is up in the air, but

even if Republicans take the House, they'll hold onto it only narrowly. Republican

control of Congress will, of course, be a blow to the African American community as

key committees are chaired by members of the Congressional Black Caucus,

including Rep. Bobby Scott (VA) in Education, Rep. Maxine Waters (CA) in Banking,

and Finance, Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS) in Homeland Security, among others.


The 2022 midterm elections remind us that pollsters spew nonsense and

raise questions about the very nature of polling. It makes me wonder if the

corporate media collaborates with pollsters to maintain the status quo. The

pollsters take to the airwaves predicting, among other things, a red wave. Does it

encourage people to stay home or to get out to challenge the polls? When the drip

drip drip of negative polls is reported as "breaking news" almost every hour on the hour, what impact does it have on the electorate? Who are these pollsters talking to

anyway? How many people? What demographic? What methodology? Are they

doing internet polls? Are they properly sampling Black people? Are they stuck in the

dark ages of landline phones (many people don't have landlines)? Polling

methodology is replete with possible errors, and the voters highlighted those. No

red wave, just a red puddle. The whole polling enterprise needs to be re-examined.


The Democratic Party also needs to be examined. It relies on African

American people as its base, yet it is expert in ignoring Black people when

distributing resources. Organizations like the National Coalition for Black Civic

Participation, Black Voters Matter, and other independent organization get less

support for the Democratic Party than they should. Further, Democratic indifference

or belated focus on Black candidates has impacted the outcome of the midterm

elections.


North Carolina's senatorial candidate Cheri Beasley came within 3 percent of

winning the election. Beasley got some Democratic Party support, but it was too

late. In Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes came within 30,000 of winning, but a low

turnout in heavily Black Milwaukee condemned Barnes to a loss. Could the

Democratic Party have funded a ground game in Milwaukee? Did Mandela Barnes

pay enough attention to his natural base? It's easy to do the Monday-morning

quarterbacking about the midterm election. The process of making the Democratic

Party more responsive to Black people is more challenging.


Many of us got tens of emails daily from Democrats asking for funds. It was

always urgent, accompanied by the promise of a 2 or 3 or 4 times match. How much

money goes to candidates, and how much to pollsters and campaign consultants?

How many of these consultants work for the Democratic Party, not the candidate

directly? I prefer to give my money directly to candidate websites and to support

independent voter participation activities, especially those that target Black voters.


Neither Democrats nor Republicans have a majority among voters.

Independent voters are unwilling to declare party allegiance, and often willing to

split tickets, responding to their assessments of individual candidates, not party

affiliation. This increasing independence, especially among young voters, poses a

challenge to both parties. Both democrats and republicans are experiencing intra-

party conflict, which, when combined with gerrymandering, has caused some

Democratic losses in usually Democratic New York state. Ideological puritans say

they won't vote for flawed candidates unless they get their way. They need to

consider what happens when they fail to vote at all.


The 2022 midterm election will be discussed until 2024. However, I hope the

2022 elections taught lessons. The Democratic Party must invest in its African

American base. And all of us must ignore the pollsters.

 

Dr. Julianne Malveaux is an economist, author and Dean of the College of

Ethnic Studies at Cal State LA.

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