Black voter turnout will be strong, but not likely to increase much over 2008, partly because of voter ID laws in several states designed to discourage voting among likely Democratic voters, according to a report released Thursday by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
“Nationally, black turnout increased 4.4 percentage points in 2008 after increasing by three percentage points from 1996 to 2000,” David Bositis, senior political analyst for the black think tank, wrote in the report, “Blacks & the 2012 Democratic National Convention.”
Bositis, who has written numerous books and studied presidential voting patterns back to 1936 when more black Americans began voting Democratic, wrote that while 2008 was historic because it was the first time a black man was a major party nominee for president, 2012 is also historic because it is the first time a black president would seek reelection.
Still, “Given how strong black turnout was in 2008, it is unlikely that there will be much of an increase in 2012, especially with the enactment of government-issued photo identification laws in several states with large black populations. However, given the strong support President Obama enjoys among African-Americans as well as the Obama campaign’s strong ground operations, there is likely to be a robust black turnout in 2012—comparable to 2008.”
The landscape in this year’s election is very different from four years ago with the economy in free fall and the national electorate, disgusted with eight years of George W. Bush’s economic policy, ready to elect almost anyone who wasn’t Republican to the White House.
In 2010, the GOP regained control of the House of Representatives and Republicans vowed to block Obama at every turn to guarantee that he would not win reelection this year. And although there has been some overall improvement in the economy, the jobless rate has not fallen far enough fast enough to satisfy most Americans.
“African-Americans,” Bositis wrote, “as much as or more than other groups have suffered from that poor economy and income inequality. President Obama proposes to continue the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and to carefully cut spending after the economy has recovered. Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, propose repealing the Affordable Care Act, tax cuts and cutting government spending as their platform. All of these policy prescriptions would harm African-Americans.
“African-Americans are three times more likely (36 percent vs. 12 percent) than non-Hispanic whites to lack health insurance. In 1993, President Clinton raised taxes and during his time in office, African-Americans experienced their greatest increase in income growth in U.S. history.”
Black income declined during the Bush years and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has proposed cutting Medicare and Medicaid, the latter providing key medical assistance to the poor, as well as education spending and government jobs – all of which would hurt black Americans deeply.
Bositis wrote that black turnout would be important in several battleground states that Obama won in 2008, but are likely to be more competitive in this election cycle.
Obama is favored to win in Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada and Virginia, which – along with the states he is almost certain to win – would give him 303 electoral votes, more than the 270 needed to win.
But the president doesn’t have a lock on any of the aforementioned states and “events especially negative economic events, could derail him in these states,” Bositis wrote, adding that Obama is also competitive in Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
When it became apparent that Romney would likely be the Republican nominee, political pundits said he would need to win an overwhelming majority of battleground states to win, while Obama would not need as many.
In an earlier interview with BlackAmericaWeb.com, Bositis said while it appeared that Obama could win reelection, it would be a much closer race than in 2008.
“The present contours of the 2012 electoral map suggest President Obama is likely to win all of the states that Massachusetts Senator John Kerry carried in 2004 (246 electoral votes) when he was the Democratic Party’s nominee for President,” Bositis wrote in this week’s report, making the battleground states – especially those with large black populations – all the more important in getting the vote out.