As he prepares for a fight to remain in the White House come 2012, President Obama is ramping up its efforts to attract Blacks to the campaign. African-Americans voted for Obama in record numbers in 2008, and, though his popularity with Blacks has dropped recently, he still has an 85 percent approval rating with the ethnic group. But how meaningful will these new efforts be, and will they make a difference?
For the rest of 2011, Obama wants to hold 100 meetings in Black communities across America. The meetings, led by some of his top Black officials, will seek to remind Black Americans what the administration has done for them, and how Obama’s reelection will improve on those changes even more. The White House has even launched a Web page that specifically addresses problems in the Black community and that trumpets Obama’s successes in the minority community.
Earlier this month, Obama spoke at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network annual conference, a kickoff to his courting of African-Americans.
“We’re crisscrossing the country and taking our stories directly to people about how the African-American community is benefiting from the Obama administration,” Michael Blake, the White House’s director of African-American outreach, told BlackAmericaWeb.com. “We’re literally going to people’s homes and having direct conversations. We’re getting out of D.C. and approaching our efforts from a community level.”
The problem here is that many Black Americans are currently in a bad place. Black unemployment is markedly worse than white unemployment, and it’s only getting worse. Like other Americans, when Blacks go to the polls, they often vote based on their pocketbooks. And the fact of the matter is that many Blacks are struggling in this economy. It’s pretty unlikely that they will turn out in droves to vote for Obama’s Republican opponent, but it is possible that they won’t participate in Obama’s grassroots campaign the way they did before, and it’s even more possible that they won’t turn out to vote at the rate they did in 2008.
The simple truth is that Obama has fallen to earth a bit in the past three years, and Blacks, like everyone, can only take so much.
(Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)