In 2008 Elections, Voter Turnout for Young Blacks Sets Record; Exceeds Turnout Rate for Young White Voters

The 2008 election was historic in many ways. One of those was the turnout rate for young black voters.

According to a report on the election from The Pew Research Center, Dissecting the 2008 Electorate: Most Diverse in U.S. History, for the first time in American history young blacks (aged 18-29) had a higher voter turnout than young white voters:
Young-Voters-2008-Election

All told, 58.2% of eligible young voters took part in the 2008 election. This was the all-time highest voter turnout rate for young black voters.

Despite these record numbers, the turnout rate for young black voters was lower than the overall black turnout rate. The turnout rate for all black voters was 65.2%, and 66.1% for all white voters.

These are some other stats concerning young voters and the 2008 elections from the Pew Report:

• The voter turnout rate among black eligible voters ages 18 to 29 was 8.7 percentage points higher in 2008 than in 2004—58.2% versus 49.5%.

• Voter participation among white eligible voters ages 18 to 29 was down slightly in 2008 compared with 2004—52.1% versus 52.3%.

• Young Latino eligible voters increased their voter participation rate to 40.7% in 2008 from 35.5% in 2004.

• The voter turnout rate among Asian eligible voters ages 18 to 29 was up 10.5 percentage points, to 42.9% in 2008 from 32.4% in 2004. This was the largest increase among all racial and ethnic groups for that age group.

Of interest, the turnout rate for young whites was slightly down form 2004. The decrease was very small, but it is a decrease. This may reflect that Republican voting in the election was down. According to a report from American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate, Republican turnout declined in 44 states and the District of Columbia and increased in only six—none by a greater amount than two percentage points.

Related Posts:
Post Election Analysis: The Myth That “They Only Voted For Obama Because He’s Black.”
In 2008 Election, Black Women Have the Highest Voter Turnout
The Color of the Young Vote, 2008

In 2008 Election, Black Women Have the Highest Voter Turnout Rate

The Pew Research Center has recently released a report on voting in the 2008 election titled Dissecting the 2008 Electorate: Most Diverse in U.S. History. As indicated by the report’s title, the big finding was that this election featured best-ever turnout numbers for non-whites, such as African Americans and Hispanics.

The report, which looks at voting by ethnicity and gender, discloses a surprising statistic: black women had the highest voter turnout among all all groups in the 2008 election. This is noted in the following chart:
Voter-Turnout-by-Gender-and-Race

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Prominent Black Democrat Won’t Endorse Jim Martin in Georgia Senate Race

This is from the AugustaChronicle.com, concerning the Georgia Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Democratic challenger Jim Martin.

AP, November 19, 2008: U.S. Senate candidate Jim Martin won’t be getting an endorsement from his former Democratic rival anytime soon.

DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Vernon Jones, who lost to Mr. Martin in a primary runoff in August, said he has no plans to back him, citing the former state lawmaker’s lack of support for Democratic President-elect Barack Obama during the primary season.

Mr. Martin voted for Democrat John Edwards in Georgia’s Feb. 5 presidential primary even though the North Carolina senator already had dropped out of the race.

Mr. Jones, who is black, hammered Mr. Martin repeatedly for that vote during their bitter campaign.

“Jim Martin did not want Barack Obama to be president,” Mr. Jones said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “He did not want to vote for an African-American or a woman.”

Mr. Jones said it’s hypocritical for Mr. Martin to now be “begging Barack Obama to come down here and help him” in his Dec. 2 runoff.

Mr. Martin is locked in a runoff with Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss after neither garnered 50 percent of the vote in the general election. He has asked Mr. Obama to campaign for him but has received no word on whether he will.

That kind of news can’t be helpful to Martin, who needs the black vote to turnout if he’s going to win the runoff. While Chambliss got just under 50% of the general election vote, Martin got around 47% (the same percentage that Barack Obama got in Georgia).

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Election Winners and Losers

Here are my own election winners and losers, plus some “too early to tell” entries.

Winners:

Barack Obama. Duh. This Hawaiian born and bred biracial intellectual with minimal experience has become perhaps the most unique and remarkable politician in American history. Now we’ll see if he can fix the mess that George Bush and congressional Republicans have made of this country.

Michelle Obama. The Right tried to demonize her into being an anti-white angry black woman who does terrorist fist bumps with her pals-with-terrorists husband. But like her husband, the more you saw of her, the better you felt about her.

I think she benefitted from not being a silent trophy wife; her speech at the Democratic National Convention and numerous media appearances showed her to be articulate, smart, and personable. I have no doubt that America is embracing her as the new First Lady.

Democrats in the Southeast: Who would have predicted even two years ago that a black Democratic presidential candidate would win in Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida? And how about the fact that Virginia and North Carolina both sent Democrats to the US Senate this year?

The bottom line is, the southeast has become a new battleground for the parties, after being owned by Republicans the prior two elections. And they could have more success there in the future, if they play their cards right.

Democrats in the Industrial Midwest: The last two northern Democrats to be nominated as presidential candidates were both from Massachusetts. They both lost. This year a candidate from the Midwest gave it a try, and found success.

Observers are saying that the proximity of red states like Iowa and Indiana to Obama’s “home” state of Illinois was a factor in his victories there. I bet that a lot of Democrats from the Midwest are looking at themselves in the mirror and thinking, maybe I’m next.

At least, Obama’s victory disturbs the conventional wisdom that only a southern Democrat has a chance of winning a presidential election.

Organized Labor: Make no mistake, labor put a lot of money and manpower into this election. The Democrats’ success in Pennsylvania and other Great Lakes states is owed in part to their efforts.

Now we’ll see what organized labor wants, and how much they can get from Obama and the Congress. A bail-out for the auto industry seems first on the list.

Internet Based Campaigning: The Obama campaign has become a legend in its own time thanks to its masterful use of the Internet to organize, communicate, and raise money. By the next presidential cycle, everybody will be doing it-or at least, they’ll try.

Cornell Belcher and Leah Daughtry: You probably don’t know these two black technocrats who work for the Democratic Party, but you should.

Cornell Belcher is the first African American to serve as polling director for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Belcher was also a pollster for the Obama campaign. He had the insight that the Democrats could find enough pockets of strength that even a black man could win the presidency. And he was right. (Although he would be the first to say that the toxic environment for Republicans was a huge key to this election.)

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Post Election Analysis: The Myth That “They Only Voted For Obama Because He’s Black.”

I’ve seen this comment over and over again on the Internet and other sources: “black people voted for Obama for the sole reason that he’s black.” But that thinking doesn’t stand-up to the evidence.

Consider the black vote for these white candidates for president, as noted in a report from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies:
• Lyndon Johnson, 1964: 94% of the African American vote
• Al Gore, 2000: 90%
• John Kerry, 2008: 88%

As these numbers indicate, African Americans have been voting for white Democratic presidential contenders at an 88-90% rate for decades. So a large black vote for Obama was not unprecedented.

Obama did get a very very high percentage of the black vote – 95%, according to exit polls – but this was to be expected no matter which Democrat was running. Current president George Bush is extremely unpopular with African Americans, due to such issues as the handling of the Katrina disaster, and the very bad economic environment for blacks.

That probably caused the Republicans to lose the small sliver of black support they’ve received in the past 40-50 years.

So again, any Democrat running for president – black, white, purple, green – was going to benefit from a huge share of the black vote.

Having said that, there’s no doubt that having an African American to vote for president, after years of supporting white Democrat contenders, generated an overwhelming level of enthusiasm in the black community. Obama’s candidacy and campaign led to the registration of thousands of black voters, and probably a record black turnout. According to exit polls, blacks constituted 13 percent of the electorate, a 2 percentage-point gain over 2004, and the actual increase may be more than that.

If black voters had been equally enthused for Gore in 2000 or Kerry in 2004, the results for those elections may have been quite different.

Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at the white vote for this election.

Black Students at Lincoln University Wait 5-7 Hours to Vote

My great-grandfather was an immigrant from the Caribbean who was employed as a cook for Lincoln University, a small, Quaker-founded historically black college in southeastern Pennsylvania. Several of his children, including my grandfather, attended Lincoln University. Many family members still live in the area.

As such, I was personally touched to read this story of the perseverance of Lincoln University students who waited for hours, some in the rain, to cast their votes.

Video of this from a local TV station is here:
http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/local&id=6490963

The Philadelphia Inquirer tells the story:

College students around the region turned out in record numbers to vote, but probably few of them underwent the test of endurance that greeted students from Lincoln University in Chester County.

The average time in line at their off-campus precinct in Lower Oxford Township was five and a half hours, according to some students. Food and drink were brought in. Portable toilets were set up. When rain started, volunteers arrived with umbrellas and ponchos.

“It was a travesty,” said Michele Vaughn, chairwoman of the Chester County Democratic Committee. “But the kids stayed in line. Their resolve was remarkable.”

But absent a court order, no change is likely anytime soon, said Terence Farrell, a Republican committeeman in the Chester County precinct, and the first African American elected to serve on the county Board of Commissioners.

In September, when presented with a petition from several residents, Farrell and fellow Republican Commissioner Carol Aichele voted against moving the precinct to the gym on the Lincoln University campus, where voters could wait indoors and where there is plenty of parking.

“The large turnout only happens one out of every eight elections, the presidential,” he said. The next election is the spring 2009 primary. “Very few students will participate,” he predicted.

Lincoln University president Ivory V. Nelson said that the university had agreed to the change but that the county commissioners had rejected it. “We did what we thought was a civic duty in saying they could vote here,” he said. “We want to congratulate our students for sticking it out. It was an important election.”

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Post Election Political Miscellany @ 11/7/08

Barack Obama won the election for president thanks to huge winning margins among black and Hispanic voters. This is from exit poll survey results on the CNN website:

vote-by-sex-and-race
Source: CNN/National Exit Poll

Overall, Obama got 43% of the white vote. By contrast, John Kerry got 41% of the white vote when he ran for president in 2004.

But here’s the thing about the white vote. The electoral map for this election is shown below. The blue sates were won by Obama, the red states by John McCain. Note that, the darker the color, the greater the margin of victory for each of the states:

map-electoral-voting

John McCain won a swath of “deep red” states stretching from Texas and Oklahoma in the southwest to Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama in the southeast. I would bet that outside the South, Obama won half or more of the white vote-a fact that might indicate something about race relations and racial politics in the South versus the rest of the country.
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Yes we did! Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama. And to the Black Community for Representing.

It’s a done deal!

When it became clear last night that John McCain had lost both Pennsylvania and Ohio, it was all over but the shouting. Barack Obama wound up winning in an electoral college landslide.

The black community deserves some credit for this, in two ways.

First, it’s clear that the black vote was enormous. A combination of a huge black turnout, plus a near unanimous vote for Obama-it looks like as many as 95% of African Americans voted for him-smoothed the way for his victory. (This makes me wonder-why did we have to wait for a black man to run for president, before we turned-out in these numbers? If we had done this in 2000 or 2004, maybe Bush wouldn’t have been elected or re-elected. But that’s a discussion for another day.)

A black woman at a liquor store made a Red Foxx/Richard Pryor “old school” kind of joke that there were so many black people on line to vote, they could have filmed three or four Tarzan movies. Yeah, it’s not PC, but I thought it was funny. Please forgive me for any offense.

But to get serious and back to the point, there is a second reason why the black community was so key to this election. It’s because you represented.

Back in the spring, I was talking with a friend about Obama’s chances of winning the election. I said I was fearful that white Americans might not be willing to vote for a black man for president.

He replied, “I’ll tell you why white people will vote for Barack Obama. It’s because they know you and they know me.”

And I got it. So many of us, myself included, underestimate the impact that we as as competent, articulate, professional, honest, decent, and hard-working black people have on the whites we interact with, in the workplace or other settings.

When white people see Obama, they’re not necessarily associating him with some sorry stereotypical image of black Americans.

They are also associating him with you and with me.

And the good will that we’ve created, in turn, created a reservoir of good will among white voters that Barack Obama was able to tap into, in an apparently successful manner.

So, I want to thank YOU for representing the race, and for making this historic win possible. You deserve those thanks.

Now go ahead and have a good cry.

Racial Divide – Or Competing Political Ambitions – May Cost Louisiana Democrats a House Seat

In an earlier post, I spoke about the tangled web of race, politics, and ambition in Louisiana:

The Democratic Party was overjoyed by this spring’s victory of Don Cazayoux in Louisiana’s 6th congressional district, which includes the city of Baton Rouge. The 6th district had been held by the Republican Richard Baker since 1986. Baker vacated his office in February, and the state of Louisiana held a special election to fill the seat in May. Cazayoux won, beating out Republican Woody Jenkins, and will represent the district through the end of the year.

However, there still needs to be an election to fill the seat for the term that runs from 2009 through 2010. And this is where things get complicated.

Many black Democrats in Louisiana are upset that the state and National Democratic Party haven’t been supportive of black candidates running for congressional and state-wide offices.

Things got so bad that an associate of Louisiana state representative Michael Jackson sent out “robo-calls” to Baton Rouge’s African-American neighborhoods on the day of the May special election, telling voters to “teach white Democrats a lesson” by staying home and not voting. Jackson, who had not approved the calls, had to step in to have the calls stopped.

And now Jackson is threatening to run in the November general election for the 6th district as an Independent. Jackson has reportedly run television ads stating his intention to run in the November general election.

If Jackson does run in the November general election, it could have a devastating effect on the Democrat’s chances of holding onto the seat. Cazayoux and Jackson would probably split the Democratic vote, making it easy for the Republican to get the plurality of votes and win the election.

But on the other hand: Cazayoux and the Republican candidate – who almost certainly will be white – could split the white vote. And if Jackson could get the more votes than either white candidates, he could win the election outright, even if he only gets a plurality of the votes. (In Louisiana, there is no requirement for a runoff election where a candidate must get the majority of the votes.) The 6th district’s population is 33% African American.

And that explains why Jackson might be willing to run what is a high risk but dangerous campaign as far as the Democratic party is concerned.

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Hats Off to Black Radio’s Tom Joyner for His Get Out the Vote Efforts

The very effective use of the Internet by the Obama campaign, and the role of the Internet in this election season, have gotten a lot of attention, and deservedly so.

But an old mainstay of the black community – black radio – has, as usual, has played an important role in informing and mobilizing black voters.

The Nation magazine talks about the great work being done by radio DJ Tom Joyner (paid subscription required to read the full article):

In October, as trumped-up accusations of voter fraud swirled around ACORN, another national grassroots voter registration drive aimed at low-income and ethnic communities steamed along, under the radar of the mainstream press and the Republican operatives hoping to challenge such efforts.

Called 1-866-MYVOTE1, it is headed by African-American disc jockey Tom Joyner. His Tom Joyner Morning Show, fourteen years old this year, broadcasts nationwide on 115 radio stations, reaching more than 8 million weekday listeners. His website, blackamericaweb.com, receives 3.5 million page views per month.

…Joyner downplays rhetoric endorsing individual candidates–he supports Obama but has made no official endorsement–in favor of touting the 1-866-MYVOTE1 campaign as a nonpartisan effort to provide voter registration and polling place information and to give his listeners a way of reporting, in real time, problems they encounter at their local balloting place. Listen to his program daily and you will hear relentless references to 1-866-MYVOTE1, all delivered in cheery language free of rancor.

“Politics is never a sexy subject,” Joyner said in a phone interview from his Dallas studio in early October. “We’re in the business of reaching as many people as we can. That’s how we stay in business. But in taking up topics like politics and health, or unemployment or the economy, we’ve found that our formula for success is to put humor with it.”

In his twice-weekly “Trickery Updates,” he turns to Ken Smukler, a political and technology consultant in Philadelphia, for jocular updates on signs of polling irregularities around the nation. Smukler built Joyner’s call-in voter information and poll-monitoring system after determining that two principal factors had contributed to problems at polls in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004: voters’ lack of information about the process and particulars of registering and voting, and the fact that many polling places lack the resources and well-trained staff to handle large numbers of voters.

OK, But What Do You Really Think About Black Folks Voting?

From a posting on DailyKos, Florida GOP County Chair: Help!Black People are Voting!!!:

There are days in Florida when you feel like you are living in the 19th Century. Here is part of the text of an e-mail sent by the Chairman of the Hillsborough Republican Party (this is county that contains Tampa).

THE THREAT:

HERE IN TEMPLE TERRACE, FL OUR REPUBLICAN HQ IS ONE BLOCK AWAY FROM OUR LIBRARY, WHICH IS AN EARLY VOTING SITE.

I SEE CARLOADS OF BLACK OBAMA SUPPORTERS COMING FROM THE INNER CITY TO CAST THEIR VOTES FOR OBAMA. THIS IS THEIR CHANCE TO GET A BLACK PRESIDENT AND THEY SEEM TO CARE LITTLE THAT HE IS AT MINIMUM, SOCIALIST, AND PROBABLY MARXIST IN HIS CORE BELIEFS. AFTER ALL, HE IS BLACK–NO EXPERIENCE OR ACCOMPLISHMENTS–BUT HE IS BLACK.

I ALSO SEE YOUNG COLLEGE STUDENTS AND THEIR PROFESSORS FROM USF PARKING THEIR CARS WITH THE PROMINENT ‘OBAMA’ BUMPER STICKERS. THE STUDENTS ARE ENTHUSIASTIC TO BE VOTING IN A HISTORIC ELECTION WHERE THERE MAY BE THE FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT.

Sigh…

Links of Interest: Anxious Black Women, New Racial Politics in SC, Religious Bigotry, and More

Here are some interesting reads:

• The Huffington Post has a very good story on how Pre-Election Anxiety Squeezes African American Women.

“On the news yesterday, they revealed a potential neo-Nazi plot against Barack Obama, and then they gave more details on the racially-motivated Ashley Todd hoax. It made my heart pound. My blood pressure rose precipitously,” said anthropologist Wende Marshall, professor of public health services, University of Virginia.

Barack Obama’s candidacy represents a pivotal moment in history, and many African American women are having a visceral reaction to the final, frantic days of the presidential campaign.

• South Carolina’s The State has a report on the emergence of a new generation of black leaders.

African-Americans could end up holding a majority of policymaking positions in Richland County, South Carolina this year, continuing a shift toward a younger generation of black leaders. Richland is the location of South Carolina’s capital city, Columbia.

From the General Assembly to County Council and City Hall, voters this decade have selected more black candidates, some of them breaking through racial barriers to win in white-majority districts.
These politicians are different from those who came of age in the Civil Rights era.

They are Democrats who don’t toe the party line. They run a different style of campaign. And their pragmatic approach to politics sometimes rubs those who came before them the wrong way.

“They were fighting for social equality while we are fighting for economic equality,” said Barry A. Walker Sr., 47, an Irmo town councilman who owns a restaurant and blues club in downtown Columbia. “I’m not running on the fact I couldn’t sit at the lunch counter. I can eat where I want — but wonder if I can afford it.”

• At the website Political Intersection, black Republican Sophia Nelson looks at race in the campaign in her essay Murtha, Powell, McCain, Obama, Palin: Let’s Talk About Race & the 2008 Campaign

The problem for the GOP is as I stated back in March in Politico in my article titled, “Obama Does Not Have a Race Problem, the GOP Does.” The proverbial chickens have come home to roost for my party because of years of “southern strategy” politics, neglect of black voters, and catering to mostly white southern conservative constituencies. This has laid the groundwork that anything McCain & Palin say will be wrongly construed as “race baiting” or worse.

I also reject that using Senator Obama’s middle name is somehow a racist thing to do. It is as former U.S. Civil Rights Chairman & longtime liberal Democrat Mary Frances Berry (who is also black) stated on CNN on Wednesday, October 8th, “I do not think it is racial “code” language to call Senator Obama by his name. After all it is his name and if he is elected –we will call him Barack Hussein Obama—as we did Lyndon Baines Johnson, George W. Bush, George HW Bush, and William Jefferson Clinton.”

What the past two weeks in American politics has proven to me is that we are still in some ways two separate and unequal Americas—less so on race—and much more so on social class and geographic divisions. That is key to understanding the McCain-Palin strategy. We all need to take a collective national breath and get a grip. We are in very serious and very dangerous economic times—I want the President who is going to lead America to brighter days and sustained prosperity—I don’t care what color he is or how old he is—like most Americans, I want results.

• Concerning a comment from the above link, {I do not think it is racial “code” language to call Senator Obama by his middle name}: the use of Obama’s middle name is not racial code, it’s religious code. One of the undercurrents in this year’s election season is religious bigotry against Muslims in particular and non-Christians in general. Colin Powell touched on this eloquently is his endorsement of Obama.

Perhaps the most horrific case of religious bigotry on the campaign is Republican North Carolina senator Elizabeth Dole’s “Godless” ad attack on challenger Kay Hagan. The ad, in all its hateful glory, is here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lf2vDk-4Ag

The ad demonizes atheists, and implies that Hagan herself is “godless”. It has been condemned by GOP operatives like Ed Rollins and Alex Castellanos, and rightfully so.

• This is an interesting story from Knoxnews.com: Jamillah Farrakhan balances fashion and faith

Jamillah Farrakhan balances fashion with her faith.

The 25-year-old is the granddaughter of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and one of the models at the Ebony Fashion Fair.

Black Turnout Could Be Key in Ohio

This video from the AP discusses black voter turnout in Ohio.

This could be key for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s chances to win this state in November.

In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry got “only” 84% of the black vote in Ohio; meanwhile, he got 88% of the African American vote nation wide. Kerry wound up losing in Ohio by just two points (Kerry got 48.7% of the overall Ohio vote, versus 50.8% for Republican presidential candidate George Bush).

Had he won Ohio, Kerry would have been elected president.

Obama will certainly get more than 84% of the black vote in Ohio, and an expected increase in black voter turnout will also help him.

It remains to be seen if that will be enough for Obama to win this state. Kerry lost the Ohio white vote in 2004; Obama will undoubtedly lose the Ohio white vote this year. So Obama will need a good showing among black voters to get a “W” there for this election.

And needless to say, Obama will hope that this year, there won’t be any issues with counting ballots. We’ll see.

And see this post for a brief note on black mayors in Ohio.