Priorities USA Action, the super PAC that has helped Hillary Clinton dominate the airwaves with political ads, will put up money to bolster the work of some grass-roots political groups to mobilize Latino, Asian American and black voters in several swing states.
The super PAC has pledged $3.5 million to the Center for Community Change Action and Immigrant Voters Win, which is focused on boosting turnout among Latino and Asian Americans in Florida, Nevada and Colorado. A third group, BlackPAC, will focus on millennials and hopes to maintain the historically high level of turnout among African American voters during the past two presidential elections.
Leaders of those groups welcomed the financial help, warning that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s high unfavorable rating among voters of color might not be enough to ensure that they will show up in force for an election that has proven to be unpredictable.
“This marks the beginning of our investment in ground game activities,” said Priorities USA spokesman Justin Barasky, who added that additional money will be spent with other groups involved in voter turnout activities. “We understand the importance of not taking the election for granted.
“We know that despite the fact that Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified to be president and despite how horrible he is, we have to ensure that everyone knows what’s at stake and comes out to vote since the last thing we want is for him to be accidentally elected when the majority of the country is against him,” Barasky added.
Priorities has pledged nearly $150 million in television, radio and online ads for the campaign cycle, but Barasky said it has decided to pull ads in some states, such as Virginia, and that the money will be “redirected to do real work on the ground with like-minded partners to make sure we’re not leaving any stone unturned.”
The announcement also comes after Trump has turned his attention to voters of color, appealing to them to vote for him because Democrats have not addressed the problems affecting some communities of color.
In the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, Clinton leads Trump among nonwhite voters by 57 percentage points (75 percent to 18 percent).
“Never before have we seen a candidate as uniquely unfit to be president of the United States as Donald Trump, who kicked off his campaign by calling Hispanics criminals and rapists, and has spent recent weeks looking to make inroads with African Americans by demeaning and insulting them at every turn,” said Guy Cecil, chief strategist at Priorities USA. "This will build upon the work Priorities has already done to bring together organizations committed to stopping Donald Trump from becoming our president, and we will be announcing additional partnerships soon.”
Deepak Pateriya, chief of staff of the Center for Community Change Action, said the money will be used to continue the work of its PAC, Immigrant Voters Win, which focuses on door-to-door canvassing among groups that are not regular voters.
Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of BlackPAC, said the group will focus on younger black voters, including millennials. Polls have shown younger voters to be less enthusiastic about Clinton’s campaign, even though they have no love for Trump.
Both Shropshire and Pateriya said their contact with voters of color so far has shown them to be more motivated by issues than how they feel about the candidates.
Neither fear that Trump will convince people of color to support his candidacy. But Pateriya said his canvassers have found that talking to potential voters about Trump’s divisive rhetoric causes some to say they want no part of presidential politics.
“The bottom line is this is an unusual election and what we’ve been finding is what’s really motivating people this year is for them to see a connection between the issues they and their families care about most and what we’re able to tell them about whether what the candidates are saying are in line with those issues,” Pateriya said. The group trains individuals from those target communities to go door-to-door to talk to their neighbors about the election.
“Our program is focused on those folks who don’t always vote,” he said, and canvassing also includes information about where and how to vote. He said the program involves multiple contacts with voters.
Shropshire said younger black voters also are looking for connections between issues important to them and how to make sure candidates up and down the ballot will deliver on their promises.
“We are talking about a set of voters who were surge voters in 2008 and 2012, who really turned out for Obama, who believed in him and the agenda he was putting forward. Many folks see that agenda as unfinished and want to understand how it will be continued. Another set of voters we’ll be talking to want to hear more from the Democratic nominee in terms of their issues,” she said.
She said top concerns are "economic issues and the traumatic violence targeted at black folks right now." Potential voters want to know "how those issues are showing up in election," as well as how candidates will "deliver after the election is over."
Shropshire said BlackPAC, a new group, will initially focus on voters in Florida, with plans to expand to other battleground states, using both face-to-face contact and a national digital strategy.
Steve Phillips, a progressive activist who has criticized super PACs, the Democratic Party and candidates for not investing in minority voters — who are far more loyal to Democrats — applauded the effort.
“As a rule, progressives and Democrats overemphasize paid ads targeting swing voters, who are usually white, so this commitment by Priorities to move money to Latino and African American mobilization via Immigrant Voters Win and BlackPAC is a positive development,” he said. “Hopefully, it's just the first step in prioritizing voter mobilization in the final weeks of the campaign.”