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PICKET: Obama courts black voters he previously ignored

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According to a new Gallup poll nine percent of ‘08 Obama voters are now backing Romney this year, while 5 percent of ‘08 McCain voters have switched over to Obama: 

Eighty-six percent of voters who say they voted for Barack Obama in 2008 are backing Obama again this year, a smaller proportion than the 92% of 2008 John McCain voters who are supporting 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Nine percent of 2008 Obama voters have switched to supporting Romney this year, while 5% of McCain voters have switched to Obama.

Gallup points out:

The results are based on July 23-29 Gallup Daily tracking with more than 2,000 registered voters who reported voting in the 2008 election. Of these, 48% said they voted for Obama and 42% McCain, with the remaining 10% saying they voted for another candidate or not disclosing their vote choice. However, the six-percentage-point advantage in reported voting for Obama is similar to the actual seven-point edge he had over McCain in the final 2008 returns, 53% to 46%.

Obama and Romney have been tightly matched so far this year, with the two generally tied or one having a slim one- or two-point advantage among registered voters in Gallup Daily tracking.

Thus, it follows that fewer voters are supporting Obama this year than in 2008. But the race remains close because Obama’s margin in 2008 was large enough that he could still be tied or in the lead this year if his support is a few percentage points lower.

President Obama is relying heavily on minority voter turnout. The president is now courting minorities after ignoring grassroots minority activists for over three years. Ed Klein’s new best selling book “The Amateur” discusses how the president snubbed black voters: (bolding is mine)

This isn’t the first time Obama has slighted the black community. As I reported in my book, “The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House,” Obama has largely ignored his black base and has never acknowledged his debt to the African-Americans business people in Chicago who helped launch his political career. As Hermene Hartman, the publisher of N’DIGO, Chicago’s leading African-American magazine, and the past president of the Alliance of Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs, a powerful group of African-Americans in Chicago, told me: “Barack is not necessarily known for his loyalty.”

I asked Hartman how she would rate Romney’s chances to siphon off a meaningful number of black votes from Obama.

“You have to start with the basic understanding that the African-American community is frustrated with Barack Obama,” she said. “With Obama’s election to the White House, we lived on romance, pride, and historical significance. That’s what 2008 was all about. It was Doctor King’s dream come true. Obama was perceived by African-Americans as a bright shining star, as hope, possibility, beauty, dignity, and an incredible family.

“We lived on that image for quite some time, but now the romance is gone and we have to face reality,” she continued. “The question that African-Americans are faced with is the same as all Americans—are you better off now than you were four years ago? And the answer is no.

“President Obama has courted gays and the Hispanic vote, but he has largely ignored the needs of African-Americans. He has taken the black vote for granted, because he believes we have nowhere else to go. The message is: Barack is black and therefore you will automatically vote for him.

One way Mr. Obama is trying to endear himself to black voters was his recent executive order. “The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans” is a race based program that will be administered by the Department of Education.  

The Associated Press reports that “one of the country’s oldest civil rights groups says that President Barack Obama may have a tougher time winning at least three battleground states in November” if “black voter turnout is 5 percentage points below the record levels” that it was in 2008: (bolding is mine)

Black voter turnout of 64.7 percent was a significant factor in Obama’s victory in 2008, and African Americans are considered solidly behind Obama now. But having achieved the milestone of electing Obama as the nation’s first black president, black voters may be less motivated to return to the polls in droves again, the National Urban League said in a report to be released Tuesday.

Assuming no change in 2008 voting patterns, Urban League researchers said, black turnout at about 60 percent or below could cost Obama North Carolina and make it difficult for him to win Ohio and Virginia. In addition to diminished voter enthusiasm, the still-ailing economy, persistent high unemployment among blacks, new state voting laws and limited growth in the African American population could help discourage turnout.

“We achieved a high-water mark in America in 2008. For the first time, African Americans were at the table with white America” because the turnout of black voters was just 1.4 points below white voters, said Chanelle Hardy, senior vice president and executive director of the National Urban League Policy Institute. But, “because we achieved so much in 2008, we have to push even harder to meet those numbers.

However, if President Obama is trying to bring out the black vote at the same 2008 level, he might want to avoid making remarks like the one he made during an interview with Black Enterprise Magazine: (bolding is mine)

Q: How do you respond to criticism that your administration hasn’t done enough to support black businesses?

OBAMA: My general view has been consistent throughout, which is that I want all businesses to succeed. I want all Americans to have opportunity. I’m not the president of black America. I’m the president of the United States of America, but the programs that we have put in place have been directed at those folks who are least able to get financing through conventional means, who have been in the past locked out of opportunities that were available to everybody. So, I’ll put my track record up against anybody in terms of us putting in place broad-based programs that ultimately had a huge benefit for African American businesses.

 

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