Democrats have every reason to win House and Senate races in nine key states. America’s 92 million progressive people of color, and 77 million progressive whites together, have formed a majority that represents 53% of the population. This is the coalition that elected Obama in 2008 and 2012, and these nine states, this New American Majority can catapult the Democrats back into control of the House and the Senate. In order to win we must stick to the strategy of driving voters of color and progressive whites to the polls, or we might as well get used to looking at a red map come election night.
Battleground State: Yes; People of Color : 18.8%
Ohio Senator Rob Portman is up for reelection this year. Democratic challenger Ted Strickland is already polling higher than Portman in the latest Quinnipiac University Poll, with 48% of voters favoring Strickland and only 39% of voters supporting Portman. Early voting was essential to Obama’s victory in the state, because it allowed multitudes of urban voters of color to get out to the polls in large number. If the same early voting strategy can be applied in 2016 the Dems have a huge chance of winning here.
Battleground State: No; People of Color : 44.1%
Georgia is not typically seen as an area of opportunity for Democrats due to its conservative roots and Republican dominated legislature, but for many years now the population of people of color has begun to eclipse the white population in across the state. Obama lost the state in 2008 and 2012 by just over 300,000 votes each time. Meanwhile, there were over 800,000 non-voters of color that could have been activated to make up that deficit. Georgia has a Senate seat up for election this year currently being contested by aging Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson. If Democrats can register and mobilize more voters of color to the polls in 2016, we can definitely win the Senate seat.
Battleground State: No; People of Color : 44.2%
Senator John McCain’s seat is up for reelection in 2016. Against most democratic opponents, McCain would be nigh unbeatable, but he isn’t running against just any democrat. Democratic challenger Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick is a seasoned campaigner who has won elections in 2012 and 2014 in a staunchly conservative district. A large part of Kirkpatrick’s success was her outreach to the Native American community in her district. In her Senate race, Kirkpatrick will need to employ a similar strategy on a wider scale. Mobilizing Native Americans and other voters of color as well, especially Latinos, who make up almost a third of Arizona’s population. It’s a tall order, but Kirkpatrick has proven herself capable of rising to a challenge.
Battleground State: Yes; People of Color : 44.1%
Florida has a plethora of opportunities in 2016. Florida’s 25th 26th and 27th Congressional districts all hold a majority of people of color, yet they all have Republican representatives. We can change that in 2016, through employing higher voter registration, early voting and grassroots organizing efforts. Florida’s 13th Congressional district is also a toss-up. Republican Representative David Jolly currently occupies the seat, but the district was won by Obama both in 2008 and 2012. In addition to its Congressional races, one of Florida’s Senate seats is open. The open seat has attracted the likes of Pam Keith, an African American female candidate, to run for the office with the hopes of filling Republican Marco Rubio’s seat with a Democrat.
Battleground State: Yes; People of Color : 16.7%
Though Wisconsin isn’t known for having an abundance of people of color, they garner enough representation to push Wisconsin to the more democratic side of political elections. The strength of this voting bloc has prompted Wisconsin Republicans to pass voter ID legislation, which can have disastrous effects on voter turnout for communities of color and low-income communities. Though the implementation of the law has been delayed by the courts, unless something is done, the law will go into effect by 2016. In the race for Wisconsin’s Senate seat, Republican incumbent Ron Johnson has been trailing former Wisconsin Democratic senator, Russ Feingold, by 16 points in the latest Marquette Law School poll. For Feingold to secure the election, efforts must be made to either prevent the implementation of Wisconsin’s voter ID laws, or compensate for the law by assisting voters to obtain valid ID.
Battleground State: No; People of Color : 54.6%
Texas is not a Blue state by any stretch of the imagination, but its demographics are changing rapidly in our favor. Texas is already one of the four states that has a majority people of color. 14 of Texas’ 36 Congressional Districts have a majority people of color. Three of these districts (Texas’s 22nd, 23rd, and 27th) have Republican representatives. Even though Texas may not turn over a new leaf overnight, at least one of these districts could be an opportunity in 2016, and the others in future elections. Winning these districts may one day put Texas on a path to blue.
Battleground State: Yes; People of Color : 20.5%
Much like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania lacks a profusion of communities of color, but that reality is beginning to change. 87% of the net increase in Pennsylvania’s eligible voters in the past four years have been people of color. This is a huge boon to Democrats, but making sure these new voters are registered and turnout will be crucial to Pennsylvania’s Senate race. Pennsylvania’s Senate seat is virtually considered a toss-up in 2016. Katie McGinty a progressive environmentalist is running for the Pennsylvania Senate with hopes to take the seat from Republican incumbent Pat Toomey who only narrowly won in 2010 against controversial democratic opponent Joe Sestak, who had lost party backing during the race. Democrats have good chances to seize this seat if they commit to capitalizing on the new voters of color Pennsylvania will have come 2016.
Battleground State: Yes, People of Color : 34.7%
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) believes that they can claim the Senate seat up for election in 2016. In a statement about Republican incumbent Richard Burr, the DSCC explained, “Richard Burr is not well-known or well-liked, and given the expected makeup of the 2016 electorate, all signs point to a difficult road ahead for this longtime-incumbent.” With higher voter turnout expected in 2016 for Democrats, the odds of beating Burr are high, given that Burr barely won reelection in 2014 when Democratic turnout was abysmal.
Battleground State: Yes, People of Color : 45.8%
As Harry Reid surrenders his Senate seat in 2016, a stiff competition is set to take place for the coveted Senate seat, between Republican candidate Joe Heck, and Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. In a state that is over a quarter Latino, both candidates will need to appeal to Latinos and people of color to win the the election. Catherine Cortez Masto’s Latina heritage will undoubtedly give her a significant advantage over her Republican opponent.