November 30, 2007

Obama, the Black Woman's Vote is Yours to Lose

An Open Letter to the Barack Obama Campaign:

I am extremely concerned that the Barack campaign has made or is making an error in addressing black women as a constituency. Many news articles have reported polling numbers showing black women as not having made a decision to support his run. My own informal polling (hardly scientific) and engagement with the widely read and influential "What About Our Daughters" blog contributors has now convinced me that a serious tactical mistake is being made. This group wants to be directly engaged as a constituency and I believe them to be low hanging fruit to be picked up as voters and supporters of the campaign.

A large number of black women are concerned about violence against them. The Dunbar Village rape case is a major flashpoint about which the campaign has been silent although you said you would make a statement about it, and Obama's support of Genarlow Wilson, without addressing the impact on the black female victim in the case is hurting the campaign with black women.

They are concerned about health care issues very specifically related to them, such as aggressive cancers that occur in black women more frequently and other health threats.

The point has been made that this is a constituency which controls billions of dollars in our economy and which make up a large part of the black voting public. A significant number of them are disaffected from the campaign because they have not been forcefully addressed in their own right on issues they consider important to them.

The campaign can bring this group into the fold if it will become more focused on its message to them as a group. While Obama's policy ideas may not address everything they want in the way they may want it, its my view that the campaign is under engaged with them and should take aggressive steps to correct this immediately by taking every opportunity to publicly address their concerns, particularly on violence against black women, in all of the policy activity going forward. I also think the campaign should look at what its doing to engage networks of black women and ramp it up with tight refocusing on the policy issues black women care about and should do so immediately. This issue is hurting the SC race and will hurt in other primaries in any state with significant amounts of black women. Its a group the campaign should not lose and who's support can be had if better attention is paid. Please adjust the campaigns tactics to play more to the issues of this group in terms of policy. Michelle and Oprah and gospel tours have perhaps opened the door, but the Obama campaign must step through it now with policy focused on this group before it is beaten to the punch by the Clinton campaign. This is not hard. Please don't blow it.