Valerie Jarrett, a senior strategist for the Obama campaign, isn’t paying much attention to the bombardment of media polls seven days before Election Day.
What she does care about, Jarrett explained, is voter turnout on Nov. 6 – and the momentum that’s building in the African-American community.
“I believe we will surpass the African-American turnout [from 2008] in 2012,” Jarrett said in an interview with BlackAmericaWeb.com. “There’s a real fear that the hands of time will be turned back if we elect Mitt Romney.”
“People are genuinely scared about the dramatic and draconian cuts to important programs like education,” Jarrett said. “The 2008 election was historic but this time the stakes are much higher in this race.”
With millions of Americans expected to vote early in this election, Jarrett said Obama made history last week in Chicago.
“President Obama is the first president to vote early in a presidential election,” Jarrett said.
Early voting is a key part of the Obama campaign’s strategy – and it appears to be working. Most major polls, for example, show Obama leading Romney in Ohio by five points, in large part because of voters going to the polls early.
Ohio is a critical battleground state – and a must-win for Romney. No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. Republicans dismiss media polls saying Romney is poised to win Ohio because their internal surveys show that Romney is well within striking distance.
So can Obama win Ohio?
“Yes,” Jarrett said. “I have a high degree of confidence about the tidal wave of early voting. People are motivated to vote and they feel a sense of empowerment.”
Jarrett’s appeal for early voting comes as an Associated Press poll shows that racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the nation elected its first black president.
A slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not, the poll said. In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey, according to the poll.
“As much as we’d hope the impact of race would decline over time … it appears the impact of anti-black sentiment on voting is about the same as it was four years ago,” said Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University professor who worked with AP to develop the survey.