A new liberal political organization is seeking to build a coalition of minority voters and white liberals in a key states that would not only help President Obama win in November, but elect Democrats in down-ballot offices in states like Arizona and Texas in 2014 and beyond.
PAC+, which announced its plans on Wednesday, is trying to increase turnout of black and Latino voters this fall, just like a number of other groups, including the Obama campaign. It is built on the same “SuperPAC” model that organizations on both sides of the political aisle are using this year, allowed to raise unlimited sums from individual donors. But it will likely be the best-funded of the groups that is specifically targeting minority voters.
The group, which was first reported on by BuzzFeed, estimates millions of voters of color haven’t turned out in past elections but could in the future, and it will seek to register as many of them as possible. It is hoping to raise and spend more than $10 million this year.
The key difference is that the group, led by California political activist Steve Phillips, who is African-American, is also looking to register and turn out voters in non-presidential states. They are focusing their efforts on six states, but only two, Ohio and New Mexico, are likely to be tightly-contested this fall between Obama and whoever the Republican nominee is. Instead, the group is also looking to increase black and Latino turnout in Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona, trying to put Democrats, particularly minority candidates, over the hump in certain state legislature and congressional races.
“There is such demographic change in the country,” said Phillips, “and if you have a real laser focus on increasing voters of colors, we can lock in a political realignment in the country for decades. “If we are able to turn Georgia, Texas, Arizona, what else is the right-wing going to do.”
It’s not exactly clear how easy it will be to accomplish the group’s goals. In states that the Obama campaign organized extensively in 2008, such as Ohio, it’s not clear how much higher black turnout can be. (Using census data, PAC+estimated nearly 400,000 voters of color did not turn out in Ohio. Such an additional minority vote would be very important; Obama won Ohio by about 258,000)
But Phillips and his allies are not new to politics. In 2008, they formed a group that is the basis for PAC+ called Power PAC, which ran ads and voter outreach drives in key states that targeted black voters. Two years ago, the group was a heavy backer of Kamala Harris, who won the election to become California’s attorney general, and is a rising star among black politicians.
Polls show a widening demographic gap between young, black and Latino voters, who are increasingly tied to Democrats, and older and white voters, who lean Republican. Phillips and his group say the growing alliance between white liberals, many of whom are young, and people of color could redefine American politics. They estimate there are 12 million households of either people of color or white liberals who earn more than $100,000 a year, a major potential fundraising base that PAC+ is hoping to cultivate.
Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @perrybaconjr