Author of Brown is the New White, Steve Phillips, Urges Democrats and Progressives to Mobilize Voters of Color or Fall Into the #TrumpTrap
By Steve Philips – Democrats: You’re Falling Into the #TrumpTrap
If we don’t start inspiring and mobilizing voters of color, we are facing a horrifying reality: President Donald Trump
To: HRC, Democratic Party, Progressive Organizations, Interested Parties
From: Steve Phillips
Re: Stop Falling Into the Trump Trap
The unthinkable has happened: Donald Trump has defeated his opponents and will be the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States.
Donald Trump could become President of the United States.
The possibility of a Trump presidency is greater than many of us are willing to admit. Already many, if not most, of the progressive and Democratic leadership are falling into what I call the Trump Trap by obsessing over white swing voters while ignoring and neglecting the source of power in the two last sweeping electoral victories: people of color.
If we continue on this course, we will lose, and America and the world will be faced with the truly unthinkable reality of Donald Trump in the White House.
Don’t Underestimate Trump
First of all, make no mistake about it, Trump can win. The electorate is more closely divided than most people realize. President Obama’s margin of victory in 2012 was 5 million votes, but in the key battleground states of Florida, Ohio, Colorado, and Virginia, Obama’s cumulative popular vote margin was just 405,000 votes. Had Obama lost those four states, he would have lost the election. With a margin that narrow, Trump could put several states in play by increasing the turnout of white voters anxious and angry about the country’s demographic revolution.
The Way to Win
The way to win for Democrats is to go all in investing in, inspiring, and mobilizing voters of color. The Obama formula — the only formula that has worked in national elections over the past decade — consists of mobilizing people of color so that at least 28% of all voters are of color and then winning at least 81% of the support of all voters of color while holding at 36.5% of the white vote. This year, the population of eligible voters of color is even larger and more diverse than it was in 2012, with 7.6 million more people of color legally qualified to cast ballots. Nearly one-in-three — 31% — eligible voters on Election Day will be a person of color, up from 29% in 2012.
Notice that our path to victory does not entail chasing moderate Republicans or white swing voters. The truth is that there just aren’t that many swing voters left in America. According to a recent paper published by Corwin Smidt, political science professor at Michigan State University, the number of swing voters is at an all-time low; currently just 5% of voters, or 6 million people. By comparison, there are 26 million people of color who were eligible to vote but didn’t in 2012. And this year there are more newly eligible voters of color, 7.6 million people, than there are white swing voters.
The #TrumpTrap involves tricking his opponents into mis-directing their energies and efforts toward tactics that make little or no difference in actually defeating him. Whether it was focusing on attacking each other instead of Trump (until it was too late), pursuing a mythical “establishment lane” of voters, or pouring millions into 30-second television ads in the age of social media, Trump’s opponents floundered and failed by pursuing unsound and un-strategic courses of action. Democrats and progressives cannot afford to make that mistake. And yet, we are poised to do just that.
Steve Phillips is Sr Fellow at Center fo American Progress, Chair PowerPAC+.org, civil rights attorney, and author of the national bestselling book “Brown is the New White.” Follow @steveptweets