Rep. Clyburn: Black vote could be 'secret weapon' for Dems in midterms

Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, dismissed concerns that black turnout on Nov. 2 could drop off precipitously from 2008, when then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was on the ballot and poised to become the first African-American president. 

"I really believe that that is what is going to be the secret weapon here," said the South Carolina Democrat, who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, on MSNBC. "That is the unknown to a lot of people."

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Recent polls have indicated black turnout could suffer a significant decline, but some election analyst David Bositis predicted this week that black voters, who strongly support Democrats, could have a significant impact on at least 20 House races.

That's a large number, considering Republicans would need a net gain of 39 seats in order to accomplish their stated goal of winning control of the House and Senate.

As a result, Democrats are planning millions of dollars in advertisements in key races in an attempt to drum up enthusiasm in black voters. Much of the material centers around Obama, who enjoys his highest approval ratings from the black community.

Clyburn brushed aside concerns about the polling data showing that black voters are discouraged, instead offering his view of an "engaged" electorate based off his experience in the field.

"I don't believe that for a single moment, and when they tell me they're only going to be 50 percent of what they were two years ago, I don't believe that either," he said. "The black vote is, in fact, significantly engaged."