Cities likely to be key election battleground

Urban voters will probably decide victor

PHILADELPHIA — Massachusetts is likely to be an electoral sure thing in November for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, so urban voters across the state probably won’t hold much sway during the upcoming presidential election this fall.

The urban vote from cities such as Boston, Springfield, Worcester, and Brockton will be a negligible footnote on what will be a win for Clinton.

But will city voters tilt the scales for the Democrats in the swing states nationally? Will black voters have a significant impact in critical states such as Pennsylvania, Georgia, Virginia, and Ohio?  Might Latinos tip the scale for the Democrats in Florida?

These are the early days before the full sprint to the electoral finish line for Democrats and Republicans, so the race is not entirely defined. Donald Trump’s candidacy has put the electoral map in great flux.

His current lead in the polls, according to a CNN poll, is proof that the race is unpredictable.

Blacks and Latinos turned out in massive numbers in 2008 and 2012, boosting turnout numbers in cities to historic highs.  Their participation this year could be pivotal in making an electoral impact in battleground states.

According to a Pew election poll, Latinos turned out at a 2-1 ratio for candidate Barack Obama in 2008.  Latino women supported the Democratic candidate by a margin of 68 percent. African-Americas  voted overwhelmingly for Obama, and the plurality of that vote came from the inner cities.

Clinton and Trump need 270 electoral college voters to win.  If blacks and Latinos — who have been counted upon by the Democrats to turn out vote in large numbers — behave in a lackluster way in November, the election could go to Trump in a four-way contest between Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and the Green Party.

Trump’s strategy, under this scenario, would seek to suppress the vote in the urban centers.  To do this he will need to de-emphasize Clinton’s appeal to blacks and Latinos.  He must also correct his negative profile among these voters so that he attracts a voter bloc from communities of color in key swing states.

Clinton’s victory would hinge on running up high numbers in key states by making a direct, resourced, and sustained election effort in the cities.  This would require her to invest mightily in ethnic media, and a robust voter education and election turnout effort.

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Team Hillary would need to especially target voter turnout in places such as greater Miami and Las Vegas, two swing states with a high concentration of Hispanic voters. The Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina and the city of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania are essential high turnout sectors of black voters.

In these unpredictable political times, both candidates should refine their strategy for reaching out to urban voters because their success or failure in that regard may decide who is elected the next president.

Kevin Peterson is founder of the New Democracy Coalition, which focuses on civic literacy, civic policy, and electoral justice. Darnell Williams is president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. They are coauthoring commentary pieces on the impact urban issues are having on the Republican and Democratic national conventions.