Black voter turnout could be the swing factor in November

WASHINGTON Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:16pm IST

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during an election campaign rally in Cincinnati July 16, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during an election campaign rally in Cincinnati July 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - High voter turnout among African Americans helped get President Barack Obama elected in 2008 but a black rights group fears even a small drop in turnout in the November election might cause him to lose or struggle in several key states.

Leaders of the National Urban League, a civil rights group, released a report on Tuesday that said although blacks voted overwhelmingly for the Democrat in 2008, if the number of African American voters drops even 5 percentage points this year it could tip the outcome in some vital states.

If that voter turnout rate returned to the 2004 election levels - 60 percent compared with nearly 65 percent in 2008 - the report estimated that Obama, the nation's first black president, would lose in North Carolina and would have a tough time in Ohio and Virginia.

"We wanted to point out that turnout makes a difference," said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. "And that African American turnout particularly, in a number of states, could make the ultimate difference."

Obama has a 6-point lead over his Republican rival Mitt Romney four months ahead of the November 6 election, a Reuters/Ipsos national poll showed last week.

A USA TODAY/Gallup poll of 12 swing states - including North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia - on July 8 showed the pair essentially tied as Obama had a narrow 2-point lead.

Chanelle Hardy, executive director of the National Urban League Policy Institute, said the analysis also showed that in 2008 more African Americans between 18 and 25 voted compared with whites of the same age group for the first time.

"That's just an amazing high water mark for democracy," she said. "Armed with that information we're in a strong position to tell each and every African American voter: 'Your vote does matter.'"

Morial said many political pundits often dismiss the importance of blacks because they voted overwhelmingly - about 95 percent - for Obama in 2008 over Republican John McCain.

"No one has really picked up on the idea that African American voters are part of the swing category," said Morial. "But it's not 'What percentage of African American voters will vote for the president?' - it's 'How many actually get to the polls and vote?'"

The group said it saw a connection between the unusually high black voter turnout in 2008 and tough new voter registration and vote identification requirements that have since been passed or proposed in dozens of U.S. states.

Conservative groups and Republican-led state legislatures that have proposed the new rules say they will help ensure fair voting and cut back on fraud.

Rights groups say the new rules would unfairly target groups like minorities and low-income voters. The Center for American Progress said in a report in April that as many as 25 percent of blacks do not possess a valid form of government-issued ID, compared with 11 percent on average for all races.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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Comments (1)
1FreeMind wrote:
I’m black and won’t be wasting my vote this time around. I don’t know who is worse – Obama or Romney. IMO, Obama is worse than Bush. At least we knew what to expect from Bush. He didn’t try to hide his dirt unlike Obama who has a different lie exposed everyday. I’ve heard throughout his entire Presidency that he isn’t just the President of black people and while that is true, you can’t ignore your own, then when you need something come crawling back. My goodness, at least Romney showed up to the NAACP event in Houston. And, it was a dumb move on Obama’s part to betray Christians and Jews by inviting the new anti-Christian and anti-Semite Egyptian president to the White House. It was also very dumb of him to have Gadaffi taken out. Christians in Libya are worse off because of it. So no, I definitely won’t be voting for him, and Romney is just not an option.

Jul 17, 2012 12:55am IST  --  Report as abuse
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