- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

Lower-than-expected black voter turnout hampered Democrats' efforts to win key Southern states Tuesday, while Hispanic voters were a driving force behind the Republicans' historic win of both chambers of Congress, party officials and political analysts said yesterday.
"Their base wasn't as aroused as our base," said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee.
Recruitment of Hispanic and black voters was viewed as crucial in dozens of races in every region of the country.
Last-minute pushes by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and former President Bill Clinton on the final weekend before the election did not make a difference among black voters in Florida's governor's race.
In Georgia, where the county with the most blacks saw 13,000 fewer voters than four years earlier, Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes lost to Republican Sonny Perdue and Sen. Max Cleland loss to Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss.
"How can this happen?" asked University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock. "One of two ways: Either, one, blacks didn't turn out. Or, two, blacks were voting Republican. I think blacks not turning out is more likely."
Some pollsters said yesterday they heard that black turnout was "very heavy" in large cities such as Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta and St. Louis. In fact, the turnout rate exceeded the goals.
The problem is black voters weren't impressed with Democratic candidates' messages this year, but Latino voters were with Republicans.
"The Democrats didn't energize voters this year," said Del Ali, president of Rockville-based Research 2000, which analyzes political races. "Their message was lukewarm and not motivational."
He also said voters were not blaming President Bush for recent poor economic performance and Democrats offered little alternative anyway.
Perhaps, the black vote wasn't enough for Democrats to win, like in the case of Maryland gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend who lost the governorship to Republican Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
"Black voters turned out and voted for Mrs. Townsend, but she didn't get the same support from other constituent bases," Democratic pollster Mark Mellman said. "It just wasn't enough."
Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, who was defeated in this year's Democratic primary in Georgia, said Tuesday's election results shows that Democrats failed to value their traditional black base.
"While the national pundits postulate on the reasons why minority voters didn't turn out, minority voters themselves know the truth," she said. "For generations, the Democratic Party has taken the minority vote for granted."
Republicans won their seats, with a lot of help from the Hispanic community.
In Florida, Gov. Jeb Bush was re-elected with more than 60 percent of the Latino vote. In New York, Gov. George E. Pataki was re-elected with nearly 50 percent of the Hispanic vote. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry was re-elected with more than one-third of the Latino vote, according to figures compiled by the Republican National Committee (RNC).
Republican Sen. Wayne Allard, of Colorado, won El Paso County, which has about 58,400 Hispanics, by 53,445 votes.
In Georgia, Rep. Saxby Chambliss won Gwinnett County, which has the largest Hispanic population, by 39,346 votes. In North Carolina, Elizabeth H. Dole won Wake County, the county with the state's second-largest Hispanic population by 22,405 voters, the RNC numbers show.
More than $9 million was spent by gubernatorial, Senate, and House candidates on nearly 14,000 Spanish-language television spots, setting a nationwide record for non-presidential election years and numerous statewide records, said Adam Segal, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University and editor of the Johns Hopkins Journal of American Politics.
Democrats didn't get the same support from the black voters.
Henry Crespo, president of the Miami-Dade Democratic Black Caucus, said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride did not connect with black voters in South Florida, despite the backing of some key local leaders.
"Clearly, what he did was go to a couple of chiefs to get their approval and expect us to come out and vote for him with a promise for a pie when historically we only get crumbs," Mr. Crespo said. "The black electorate is smarter than that."
This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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