Support among blacks for President Obama is starting to creep back up, but the president’s recent creation of “African Americans for Obama” reveals that he has to work overtime to get the critical voting block as jazzed about his reelection as they were in 2008.
Experts, polls and black officials suggest that while African Americans still stand by their man, their enthusiasm to vote for him in 2008’s record number has waned and that’s troubling when compared to a much larger drop in white voter support.
“It might be the case that the shine has worn off and in may localities black turnout declines vis-a-vis 2008,” said Seth McKee, a political science professor from the University of South Florida and co-author of a new study of black voter turnout for the authoritative State Politics & Policy Quarterly.
The study revealed a hidden truth in the black vote: more say they vote than actually do. “African Americans have a greater propensity to over-report voting than do whites,” said the study. Their margin of over-reporting is nearly three times that of white voters, making it difficult to firmly predict or rely on black voter turnout this fall without a robust effort to get them to the polls.
McKee’s study found that blacks voted for Obama in record numbers in 2008, drawn to the polls for a chance to put the first African American in the White House. But with polls showing enthusiasm down among blacks, the campaign will have to step up get-out-the-vote efforts. “He will need a high black turnout in some places for sure,” said McKee.
All this comes as Democrats are growing concerned that Obama’s large white vote, inspired by his hope and change message, is falling off and could reverse his close victories in states like North Carolina and Virginia. Consider: On his Inauguration Day, 63 percent of whites approved of Obama. Now, that’s down to 39 percent. Among blacks, the sky-high approval of Obama remains, but strong approval has dropped to 76 percent from 85 percent in January 2009.