#ToldjahSo: Urban League says Obama can’t afford to lose even a small percentage of black vote in NC

If you’ve been reading this blog at least for the past year or so you’ve seen my posts in which I’ve described scenarios where Obama could lose the election this fall due to a fall in support from a key voting bloc: the black vote. Record numbers of black people turned out for Obama in 2008 across America, and they propelled him to victory in key states that helped put him over the required number of electoral votes needed to become the next POTUS. NC was one of those states. Traditionally considered a “red state” (NC had not gone red in Presidential elections since Jimmy Carter), Obama was able to flip this state in 2008 narrowly thanks to a strong turnout among youth voters, independents, and black voters.

However, that was then and this is now. As I’ve noted before, a loss of just a few percentage points of the black vote in this battleground state and others like Ohio could make his reelection chances that much harder. Even though I’m sure they don’t really read this blog, the civil rights group Urban League nevertheless agrees:

One of the country’s oldest civil rights groups says President Barack Obama may have a tougher time winning at least three battleground states in November should black voter turnout fall at least 5 percentage points below the record levels that helped to put him in the White House.

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.


The league said African-American voters had their biggest impact in North Carolina four years ago. An additional 127,000 black North Carolinians who had not voted in 2004 cast ballots in 2008, and Obama won North Carolina by about 14,200 votes. If support for Obama among Africans Americans remains the same but only 60 percent of African American registered voters cast ballots, the National Urban League estimates Obama would lose close to 64,000 votes, more than four times his overall margin of victory in North Carolina.

A similar drop would also make it difficult for Obama to win in Virginia and Ohio too, the league said. The National Urban League did not calculate the effect of a turnout somewhere between the 2004 and 2008 numbers.

His campaign definitely has their work cut out for them here, especially in light of the recent vote in favor of Amendment One, which in effect put a ban on alternative types of marriage in the state constitution. This Amendment passed with the strong support of evangelical black Democrats, and some of them are disappointed in Obama’s “coming out” in support of gay marriage just one day after the passage of the Amendment. Most of them will still vote for Obama in spite of that, but even if this shaves off only a couple of percentage points of Obama’s black vote totals, it could be devastating for him here if it is as close here this year as it was four years ago. Couple that with shaving off a couple of percentage points amongst independents who detest the type of deceptive negative campaigning Team Obama is engaged in, and it very well could be curtains for Obama’s chances to win this state once again.

As they say, stay tuned. I’m nervous about what may happen. But more than ready to find out.

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