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RESPECT

The 26 places where Democrats should invest in black voters in 2018

Black voters cast their ballots
Reuters/Whitney Curtis
#BlackVotersMatter.
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The unlikely win of a US Senate seat by a Democratic candidate in deeply Republican Alabama has underscored the power of black voters—and the terrible job Democrats have done of courting them in the past.

Doug Jones, the former federal prosecutor who beat Roy Moore in the Alabama special election, launched an unusually aggressive campaign reaching out to African-Americans in the state. If Democrats want to recreate his victory elsewhere, they’re going to have to inject the same kind of resources—and then some. Other Republican candidates are unlikely to motivate black Democratic voters to go to the polls in opposition more than Moore, who had waxed nostalgic about the days of slavery.

Black leaders have been urging the Democratic party to do more to motivate voters in their community for a while. They say Democratic candidates have taken black voters for granted and don’t speak about the issues they care most about. They’ve put little effort into convincing African-Americans to vote, and when they do, it’s at the very last minute. Ahead of the Alabama election, a writer for African-American culture magazine The Root condemned the “entire Democratic party,” including Jones, as “trash” in a piece that listed those and other grievances.

Now that the Alabama results have Democrats finally paying attention, African-American voters, activists and their advocates are reminding the party of those failures, and offering advice on how to make up for them. The Brookings Institution has compiled a list of 26 cities with a majority African-American population that could help Democrats win or hold Senate seats in 2018. These would be good places for Democrats to start:

Wilmington, Delaware
71,549
41
Lauderhill, Florida
69,979
59
Miami Gardens, Florida
112,021
58
North Miami, Florida
62,042
46
Pine Hills, Florida
66,906
51
Gary, Indiana
78,483
62
Baltimore, Maryland
622,454
49
Bowie, Maryland
56,885
38
Waldorf, Maryland
71,399
41
Detroit, Michigan
690,074
62
Flint, Michigan
99,802
41
Pontiac, Michigan
59,928
38
Southfield, Michigan
72,859
56
Jackson, Mississippi
173,212
59
Camden, New Jersey
76,904
34
East Orange, New Jersey
64,578
71
Irvington township, Essex County, New Jersey
54,320
63
Newark, New Jersey
279,793
38
Trenton, New Jersey
84,632
38
Mount Vernon, New York
68,221
52
Cleveland, Ohio
390,584
39
Memphis, Tennessee
657,167
47
DeSoto, Texas
51,478
54
Hampton, Virginia
137,081
39
Portsmouth, Virginia
96,135
40
Richmond, Virginia
213,735
39

And 31 cities that could make a difference in 2020 for the Senate—and for the presidential race by default.

Birmingham, Alabama
212,211
56
Mobile, Alabama
194,669
38
Montgomery, Alabama
202,967
44
Wilmington, Delaware
71,549
41
Albany, Georgia
76,466
52
Atlanta, Georgia
448,901
42
Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia
196,635
41
Macon-Bibb County, Georgia
154,608
39
Savannah, Georgia
142,919
41
Valdosta, Georgia
56,504
38
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
229,186
42
Lake Charles, Louisiana
74,190
35
New Orleans, Louisiana
376,738
46
Shreveport, Louisiana
200,015
41
Detroit, Michigan
690,074
62
Flint, Michigan
99,802
41
Pontiac, Michigan
59,928
38
Southfield, Michigan
72,859
56
Jackson, Mississippi
173,212
59
Camden, New Jersey
76,904
34
East Orange, New Jersey
64,578
71
Irvington township, Essex County, New Jersey
54,320
63
Newark, New Jersey
279,793
38
Trenton, New Jersey
84,632
38
Rocky Mount, North Carolina
56,642
48
North Charleston, South Carolina
104,146
36
Memphis, Tennessee
657,167
47
DeSoto, Texas
51,478
54
Hampton, Virginia
137,081
39
Portsmouth, Virginia
96,135
40
Richmond, Virginia
213,735
39

Some of the cities on the lists are in toss-up states where a sliver of the electorate has the potential to swing the results, such as Michigan and Florida.

They also include places in Republican strongholds such as Texas, Mississippi, and South Carolina that went for Donald Trump by a wide margin in 2016. In the past, Democrats had written off those states as unwinnable. Alabama might change those calculations.

“When society’s assumptions around who should be valued catches up to the actual assets in black communities, we will see the kind of victories in Alabama in all of our communities, businesses and schools,” wrote Andre Perry, a fellow at Brookings metropolitan policy program.

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