In the final stretch of the campaign, Florida Democrats are pushing, cajoling and begging black voters to come out and cast their ballots.
The candidates and their surrogates are campaigning in African American and Caribbean American communities across the state, hoping to generate attention and excitement. Without strong black voter turnout, Democrats have no way to win.
“I understand there’s a bit of apathy in our community where people can feel, ‘How does this affect me? How does it affect my daily life?’” William Murphy, Atlanta pastor and recording artisthe told several dozen voters and activists in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, urging them to do everything they can to convince people that voting is important.
Black voters have the ability, Murphy said, to make up their minds about the people who make the major decisions that affect them.
“We have to decide who’s going to make the decisions, and that’s the authority we have to take back,” he said. “When they pull you over on the side of the road and pull your child out of this car, who decides, who decides if your child goes home that night.
“I say you have influence right in the palm of your hand. You get on Facebook, you get on Instagram, you get on whatever.”
He then told a small group gathered at Smitty’s Wings on Sistrunk Boulevard, the historic main street of Fort Lauderdale’s Black community, that he had to load people into cars and drive them to early voting.
Murphy spoke on behalf of Democratic Senate candidate Val Demings, a current Orlando congresswoman and former city police chief. “I say we honor God. I say we honor our ancestors by making Val Demings,” Murphy said.
Demings, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., campaigned Friday at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, one of the state’s historically black colleges and universities.
Also on Friday, Demings’ campaign ran an ad in which former President Barack Obama urged Floridians to “vote for my friend Val Demings.”
On Thursday, actor Lamman Rucker hosted Brothers for Demings events at a West Palm Beach restaurant and barbershops in Riviera Beach and Pembroke Pines.
Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist appeared Friday at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center — also on Sistrunk Boulevard and an early voting center used by many black voters — for a press conference on abortion rights, less than three weeks after another press conference at the same location on the same subject.
“Women’s reproductive freedoms are up for a vote,” Crist said. “It’s 2022, but. [Gov. Ron] DeSantis wants to take us back to 1952… I believe in women and women can believe in me.”
The biggest push comes Tuesday, when Crist and Demings are scheduled to appear at a rally led by President Joe Biden at Florida Memorial University, an HBCU in Miami Gardens, where he will appear a week before Election Day in the midterms.
Another prominent entertainer, actor and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, will also appear at the Biden-Crist-Demings rally.
A round of Souls to the Polls events takes place on Sunday, and more Souls events are scheduled for November 6, the last day of early voting two days before Election Day. The final Sunday of in-person early voting turned out to be a big election day for black voters in Florida.
Efforts to increase voter turnout began in past elections with pastors at black churches encouraging parishioners to walk from Sunday services directly to early voting locations.
The idea has since evolved into a wider effort by politicians, clergy and celebrities to attract attention and make a wider audience aware that they must vote.
Community newspapers serving black communities receive advertising.
How important are black voters to Democratic hopes of victory?
In Broward County, 79.8% of black registered voters are Democrats, 2.8% are Republicans, and 16.6% are unaffiliated/independent, with 0.8% registered in minor parties.
In Miami Gardens, another hotbed of Democratic efforts, 69% of registered voters are black. And 83% of black voters are Democrats.
A University of North Florida poll released Wednesday found U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., leading Demings, currently a Democratic congresswoman from Orlando, 54% to 43%.
Among white voters, it was 64% for Rubio and 34% for Demings, and matched by 49% among Hispanic voters.
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Among black voters, it was 11% for Rubio and 80% for Demings.
In the contest between Crist and DeSantis, a Republican, the results were similar, with strong support for the Democrat from African-American voters.
That support means nothing if it doesn’t translate into votes, which is why the Democratic Party engages in outreach to African-American and Caribbean-American voters during the election season — sometimes prompting complaints that voters only hear from politicians and activists during the election season, but not from voters. the rest of the time.
Former President Donald Trump won an estimated 10% of the vote from black voters in Florida when he ran for re-election in 2020, according to exit polls conducted for a consortium of national news organizations. That’s an improvement over the 8% he got in 2016.
DeSantis has angered many elected officials and black Democratic activists, but he has done things that might appeal to voters, including appointing Renatha Francis, a Jamaica Circuit Court judge from Palm Beach County, to the Florida Supreme Court.
His campaign also aired an extensive television ad featuring Kiyan Michael, a former member of the Black Voices for Trump advisory committee and current Republican candidate for the Northeast Florida state House of Representatives, who delivered an emotional pitch to DeSantis.