The 2012 election was historic for more than just the reelection of the nation’s first black president.
“2012 will be the last campaign where one of the major parties seeks to get elected solely with the white vote,” David Bositis, senior political analyst for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies said Wednesday in a forum to discuss the impact of the black vote during this year’s campaign.
“2012 very clearly showed that the country is multiracial, multiethnic” and successful candidates in the future – especially Republican candidates – “have to appeal to a much wider group.”
Further, Bositis said, the black vote was crucial in the so-called swing states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida, the latter of which votes are still being counted and Obama holds on to a narrow lead.
The percentage of black voter turnout in those states increased substantially, Bositis said. In Ohio, particularly, the percentage of black voters voting increased by 4 percentage points, from 11 to 15 percent of the total turnout, compared to 2008. And Obama won 96 percent of the black vote on Tuesday.
“That’s where President Obama’s margin of victory came from, the black vote in Ohio,” which helped put the president over the top in his reelection bid, said Bositis, who has followed presidential politics and black voting patterns for decades.
While Obama lost some ground among white voters, Bositis noted that there were eight states with white majorities – including Maine and Vermont – that went for the president on Tuesday. He also pointed out, however, that most of the southern states have Republican-led legislatures and that for black and Latino voters to fully flex their political muscle, they should pay closer attention to and turn out for off-year elections at nearly the same levels.
To do so, Bositis said, would “totally and completely” impact politics for years to come because the minority population grows 2 to 4 percentage points every four years and in the next 10 to 15 years the nation will become majority minority.
“What affects day-to-day life happens on the local and state legislative level. So in terms of influencing policy at that level, if they don’t participate in off-year elections, their impact is pushed further down the road.”
And what if the Republican Party insists on conducting business as usual?
“The presidency and a lot of Senate seats will be out of reach for Republicans if they’re just going to appeal to white voters,” Bositis said.
“There will come a time that Republicans will be factored out.”