In the past few months you’ve heard pundits speculating about whether the Black community is going to support President Obama in the 2012 election. In 2008, Blacks offered Obama the candidate unprecedented support, and his popularity in the African-American community has been strong throughout his tenure thus far. But as the nation’s economy continues struggling, Blacks have been especially hard-hit. While American unemployment overall is at a dismal 9.1 percent, Black unemployment is nearly twice that, at 16.7 percent. That’s the highest African-American unemployment has been in almost three decades, and all under the Black president many in the Black community looked to as a sort of savior.
Many thought that African-Americans suffering through historic poverty might grow weary with Obama, and turn on him come 2012. Professor Cornel West and news pundit Tavis Smiley went on a national poverty tour to question the Obama administration’s commitment to Blacks, and news outlets both big and small have asked the question, “Is Obama losing the Black vote?”
The short answer, according to a new article, is no, he’s not losing the Black vote — and it doesn’t look like he’s going to before November 2012 either.
In a New York Times piece published online Friday called “Black Voters’ Support for Obama Is Steady and Strong,” reporter Helene Cooper heads to North Carolina, a state Obama won by a nose in 2008 thanks in large part to 300,000 Blacks who voted for the first time in their lives (Obama ended up taking the state by just 14,000 votes). There, despite the fact that many of them are out of work and trying to traverse illness and poverty, Blacks say they’re going to vote for Obama again next year.
One African-American man who had been out of a job for over a year told Cooper, “I don’t blame Obama. I don’t blame him at all.” Before voting for Obama in 2008, the man had never voted in any election whatsoever.
Beyond just articles, the polling numbers show Blacks support Obama, too. Reports Cooper:
In a recent Pew Research Center poll, Black voters preferred Mr. Obama 95 percent to 3 percent over Mitt Romney, “which is at least the margin he got in 2008,” said Michael Dimock, associate director for research at Pew. “There’s no erosion at all.”
In other words, anything you hear about Blacks faltering when it comes to going to bat for Obama again come next November is mostly nonsense. This isn’t to say that Blacks love every policy Obama has put forth, or that they think he’s a perfect choice. What it does mean is that they know what will face them if a Republican wins, and they don’t like it.
“We already know what the Republican Party is offering,” an unemployed Black man named Larry Bennett told Cooper, “and we don’t want that.”
(Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed)