* The National Journal on Bruce Rauner’s persistent outreach to African-American voters…
Democrats are perplexed by Rauner’s strategy, assuming it’s as much a play to win over moderate suburban white voters as it is to actually win over black votes. Even one in-state Republican operative wondered why Rauner was spending valuable October campaign time in overwhelmingly Democratic precincts, given that he needs to win over undecided suburbanites in more politically-competitive territory.
“What Rauner is trying to do is taking a 90-10 electorate, and making it 88-12,” said a former adviser to Rahm Emanuel about the Republican’s focus on black voters. “That’s a waste of your time when there’s a 60-40 [suburban] electorate that you can make 50-50.” […]
Even Republicans working for Rauner privately acknowledged that despite their candidate’s optimism, they’re not going to reshape long-standing voting patterns that have consigned Republicans to a sliver of the black vote. His campaign has set a goal of winning 20 percent of the vote in Chicago, something that can be accomplished with only small inroads among minority voters. But they also hope that by highlighting Rauner’s minority outreach, he’ll improve his showing among softer Republican voters—like married women in the suburbs and moderates. The Chicago Tribune poll, which showed Rauner narrowly ahead, reported that his gains had “been driven primarily by white suburban women, a voting bloc considered socially moderate but fiscally conservative.”
Indeed, Rauner is part of a leading wave of candidates who are beginning to engage in minority outreach, even if it doesn’t render immediate political dividends. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus has prioritized minority outreach in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, and has opened field offices meant to reach African-American voters in Ohio, North Carolina, Michigan, and Florida.
* If it was all just a made-for-TV show to convince suburban women that he’s an open-minded moderate, then I might agree. But Rauner’s campaign and the IL GOP are also doing quite a bit of other outreach that suburban women won’t ever hear about, including significant amounts of direct mail, black and Latino radio/TV ads, etc.
He is, in other words, forcefully and repeatedly reminding the Democratic Party’s base that there’s an election going on. It would be akin to Democrats blanketing Wheaton with a high-dollar, shotgun-style GOTV program.
Not to mention that African-American preachers - as a class - aren’t exactly beloved by the hardcore Republican “base.” There’s some downside for Rauner here.
But, hey, maybe it’ll work. I give him credit for the outreach, at least. He has, without a doubt, forcefully expressed more high-profile concerns about the economic and social justice plights of minorities than most any other Republican we’ve seen in this state. Props for that.