AFRO: EMILYs List Seeks Change in Outreach Strategy to Reach More Voters
by Lauryn Hill
EMILYs List, an organization dedicated to assisting Democratic women to run for public office, acknowledged that some of its strategies in mobilizing Black populations has been lacking.
EMILY’S List (Courtesy Image/Logo)
President Stephanie Schriock, at a June 29 press conference, said money spent on advertising candidates specifically through media outlets are “often” geared towards White suburban female voters who are considered more willing to swing their vote.
Schriock told reporters the organization is changing their strategy regarding how candidates should focus their campaigns. “I don’t buy into this false choice of, are we going to go after persuasion of the working White class . . . Or are we gonna go do turnout in African American communities in Philadelphia or do Hispanic turnout in Arizona?” Schriock said. “We have to do both, and we have to do it better.”
Schriock said EMILYs List is “thinking strategically” on how to improve their engagement with minority voters calling Black, Asian, and Latina women the “backbone of our boat.”
“Our growth opportunity in a lot of places is getting the 800,000 African American voting age population in Georgia registered and voting,” said Schriock. “In mobilizing and educating and energizing African Americans in Georgia is how Stacey Abrams becomes the next governor of Georgia.”
Abrams is currently a front runner in the Georgia election for governor, and if elected, would become the first Black woman nationwide to hold this position. During the last election cycle, Schriock said the organization was involved in the election of Kamala Harris to the U.S. Senate in California.
EMILYs List also supported other notable Black women such as Lisa Blunt Rochester, currently the at-large representative of Delaware, and Val Demings, a representative of Florida’s 10th district.
These are districts “where we can run strong women of color and win in places where there is true diversity . . . and that means we can do a whole lot better in recruiting across the board,” Schriock said. Rather than recruiting members to target the specific minority populations, the organization has begun to target districts that have actively diverse populations.
Schriock said the organization is not thinking “we have to go to this one district because that’s a minority majority district and that’s where were going to get the African American woman,” but believing the organization can win “a whole slew of districts” as long as they find the right candidate and give them the support needed.
Since the organizations’ founding in 1985, EMILYs List has helped elect 116 women to the House, 23 to the Senate, and more than 800 to state and local offices. Forty percent of these candidates are women of color. Since the 2017 presidential election, the organization has seen an increase of more than 15,000 potential candidates. On average, 20 to 50 members sign up to Emily’s List, daily.
Schriock said the explosive increase in membership is mostly due to Hillary Clinton’s presidential loss, which increased motivation from women nationwide. “A piece of it is obviously Donald Trump and his rhetoric and attacks on women and families that is a motivating factor,” said Schriock. “But it’s not just that.”
Many woman told Schriock that their voices aren’t being heard so the motivation comes from a combination of Trump’s win and Hillary’s loss. When Clinton lost, it awakened “fears that maybe things aren’t as even and equal as we thought they were,” Schriock said.
Even though many of the growing crop of diverse candidates are not going to run in the 2018 elections, Schriock described the group as “an extraordinary pipeline for future candidates for the next decade.”