Is Barack Obama Losing African-American Support?

 

Here is a statistic that will warm the cockles of your heart. Public Policy Polling (PPP), a Democratic outfit, has found in its most recent poll that African-Americans in North Carolina are drifting towards Mitt Romney. In 2008, Barack Obama received ninety-five percent of the black vote in that state, and John McCain garnered a measly five percent. In this poll, Obama gets seventy-six percent and Romney gets twenty percent.

This may, of course, be a fluke, as some of the folks at PPP suspect. Or it may have to do with the state of the economy, as Glenn Reynolds intimates. I am inclined, however, to suspect the unthinkable – that it has to do with Obama’s embrace of gay marriage in the immediate aftermath of the referendum on the subject held in – yes, you guessed it!—North Carolina.

Barack Obama is part African and part Caucasian. But he is not African-American in the ordinary sense in which the category is used. He is not descended from those who were slaves on this continent. Moreover, he was not brought up within the African-American cultural milieu. My suspicion is that his hold on the African-American vote is quite tenuous. He has more in common culturally with ivy-league-educated folks like yours truly than he does with evangelical Christians of color, and they sense this fact. He may be wrong in supposing that he can fully embrace the agenda of our intellectual elite and still mesmerize African-American voters.

If so, in a completely counter-intuitive fashion, this just might be the year in which, for the first time in living memory, the Republicans begin to garner a respectable share of the African-American vote. Wouldn’t that be perplexing?

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @FreeWifiDuringSermon

    I read this and made the Scooby-doo noise when something (usually Scooby-snacks) got his attention. Rrr-huoo?

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    @EThompson

    Although I agree the gay marriage issue has hardly endeared Obama to many within the black religious community, I think his administration’s attempt to b**** slap Cory Booker didn’t help matters either. Mayor Booker has a very dedicated constituency of mothers/grandmothers who are madder than wet hens right now that their “son” was chastised.

    How convenient that this is happening in one of the bluest of the blue states!

    • #2
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    @JamesGawron

    Dr Rahe,

    Gay Marriage + No Jobs + Harvard = Deep Nausea

    If it busts out he could lose 25% of the black vote.  In a close election that’s a big number.

    Regards,

    Jim

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    @PaulARahe
    James Gawron: Dr Rahe,

    Gay Marriage + No Jobs + Harvard = Deep Nausea

    If it busts out he could lose 25% of the black vote.  In a close election that’s a big number.

    Regards,

    Jim · 7 minutes ago

    Big, indeed — and once one has pulled the Republican lever one can do so again.

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    @ConservativeWanderer

    I happen to think this is a fluke. He may not truly be African-American by the common definition, but those that are and that tend to “think” with their emotions instead of their intellect (i.e. most black lefties) tend to see him as “one of them.”

    If Obama doesn’t get 90+% of the African-American vote, I’ll be quite surprised.

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    @PaulARahe
    EThompson: Although I agree the gay marriage issue has hardly endeared Obama to many within the black religious community, I think his administration’s attempt to b**** slap Cory Booker didn’t help matters either. Mayor Booker has a very dedicated constituency of mothers/grandmothers who are madder than wet hens right now that their “son” was chastised.

    How convenient that this is happening in one of the bluest of the blue states! · 9 minutes ago

    At the time, I found myself thinking that Booker should switch parties and run for the Senate.

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    @AaronMiller
    James Gawron:

    If it busts out he could lose 25% of the black vote.  In a close election that’s a big number.

    Is it? Voting districts do not generally include an equal measure of middle class whites and poor blacks. If that 25% is primarily among poor blacks, then it will make little difference as they are made irrelevant by their neighbors.

    If, on the other hand, that 25% is among the swing voters of mixed-race districts, this might indeed tip the balance in favor of Romney.

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    @FreeWifiDuringSermon

    Prof. Rahe,

    Wonder if it will more likely play out like this:

    Romney get’s 10% of the black vote but more of them stay home from the voting booth unable to bring themselves to really support Obama.  

    Sort of the “choking on the donkey but not quite ready to swallow the elephant” theory playing out?

    Also, to your point about Obama’s lack of “authentic black culture” in his upbringing it reminds me of that annoying game where a liberal asks you to name a black conservative and you do (Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, etc). They go on to claim that they aren’t really black because of their rejection of black culture (i.e. not drinking the left wing koolaide).  

    But Sowell and William (and Clarence Thomas for that matter) had cultural and economic experiences much closer to the average or “authentic” black person growing up (more poverty, more racism because they’re older, and they grew up among lots of other blacks in their community).  They just arrived at different conclusions about politics and race than most in their circumstances did.

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    @ConservativeWanderer
    FreeWifiDuringSermon:

    Also, to your point about Obama’s lack of “authentic black culture” in his upbringing it reminds me of that annoying game where a liberal asks you to name a black conservative and you do (Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, etc). They go on to claim that they aren’t really black because of their rejection of black culture (i.e. not drinking the left wing koolaide).  

    But Sowell and William (and Clarence Thomas for that matter) had cultural and economic experiences much closer to the average or “authentic” black person growing up (more poverty, more racism because they’re older, and they grew up among lots of other blacks in their community).  They just arrived at different conclusions about politics and race than most in their circumstances did.

    Personally, in that circumstance I ask the lefty what specific discreet part of “black culture” the conservative in question rejects. If they have enough brains to get their shoes on the right feet in less than 10 minutes, they know I’m gonna jump on them if they quote some lefty nostrum, so they tend to mumble and try to change the topic.

    I love doing that to ’em.

    • #9
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    @RedneckDesi

    There is no way Romney gets more than 10% of the national black vote. No Way. Obama will not get the incredibly massive turnout that he had in 2008, but a majority of african-americans will pull the lever for “their” guy even with this economy, with abandoned D.C. voucher program, gay marriage, and the general overall incompentance. They really should listen to this guy.

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    @FrozenChosen

    Mitt Romney – America’s third black president (after Clinton and Obama)

    Who knew?

    • #11
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    @PaulARahe
    FreeWifiDuringSermon: Prof. Rahe,

    Wonder if it will more likely play out like this:

    Romney get’s 10% of the black vote but more of them stay home from the voting booth unable to bring themselves to really support Obama.  

    Sort of the “choking on the donkey but not quite ready to swallow the elephant” theory playing out?· 10 minutes ago

    I have figured all along that the the turn-out would be down. This time around, Obama does not offer African-Americans anything to vote for. He can only hope that they will vote against something. Witness his intervention in the Trayvo Martin-George Zimmerman affair. Like George Wallace, he really wants to play the race card.

    • #12
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    @PaulARahe
    Redneck Desi: There is no way Romney gets more than 10% of the national black vote. No Way. Obama will not get the incredibly massive turnout that he had in 2008, but a majority of african-americans will pull the lever for “their” guy even with this economy, with abandoned D.C. voucher program, gay marriage, and the general overall incompentance. They really should listen to this guy. · 6 minutes ago

    A majority, yes. A majority would vote for any white Democrat. But 90%? I wonder.

    • #13
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    @PaulARahe
    FreeWifiDuringSermon:

    Also, to your point about Obama’s lack of “authentic black culture” in his upbringing it reminds me of that annoying game where a liberal asks you to name a black conservative and you do (Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, etc). They go on to claim that they aren’t really black because of their rejection of black culture (i.e. not drinking the left wing koolaide).  

    But Sowell and William (and Clarence Thomas for that matter) had cultural and economic experiences much closer to the average or “authentic” black person growing up (more poverty, more racism because they’re older, and they grew up among lots of other blacks in their community).  They just arrived at different conclusions about politics and race than most in their circumstances did. · 15 minutes ago

    What I had in mind was tone and manner — the sort of thing that determines whether you feel comfortable with someone who purports to be one of your own. Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, and Clarence Thomas are all in tone and manner typically African-American. Barack Obama is not. Among other things, he is a cold fish and off-putting in a way that African-Americans never are.

    • #14
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    @dogsbody

    I suspect this poll is an outlier, but I also suspect the percentage of the Black vote for Obama will be somewhat less than 90%.  The election in 2008 was unusual in many ways, not least that it was the first time a black candidate had a good chance of winning.

    More significantly, Black turnout may be down by a significant amount.  Besides throwing Black evangelicals under the bus, Obama’s economy has been bad for us all but really terrible for blacks (as in the NY Times cliche, “minorities hardest hit”).  I think there are many who can’t vote against Obama but who are too disappointed in him to vote for him, so they’ll stay home.

    It would take only a few percentage points down in Black vote turnout to really hurt his chances.

    • #15
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    @

    I will be stunned if Obama gets less than 90% of the black vote nationally. Absolutely gobsmacked. There has been an enormous shift in favor of gay marriage among blacks in the last month, as they adjust their “deeply held moral principles” to match Obama’s.

    • #16
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    @Bluenoser
    Kofola: Come now…

    Are we really so desperate to start doing the happy dance over a random poll, in June, that suggests something of dubious sustainability?

    Let’s maintain a little bit of perspective here…. · 12 hours ago

    Oh come on, if the current trends continue Obama will loose every state except Utah.  Let us rejoice!

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    @DrewInWisconsin

    I’ve felt since the 2010 midterms that none of the old rules apply. Could we be witnessing the start of an anti-Obama preference cascade among the black community? Be sure that the legacy media will do all they can to prevent it from happening.

    • #18
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    @Kofola

    Come now…

    Are we really so desperate to start doing the happy dance over a random poll, in June, that suggests something of dubious sustainability?

    Let’s maintain a little bit of perspective here….

    • #19
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    @EThompson
    Paul A. Rahe

    EThompson: Although I agree the gay marriage issue has hardly endeared Obama to many within the black religious community, I think his administration’s attempt to b**** slap Cory Booker didn’t help matters either. Mayor Booker has a very dedicated constituency of mothers/grandmothers who are madder than wet hens right now that their “son” was chastised.

    How convenient that this is happening in one of the bluest of the blue states! · 9 minutes ago

    At the time, I found myself thinking that Booker should switch parties and run for the Senate.

    I know fifteen Republicans who reside in NJ and would vote for him right now.

    • #20
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    @BrentB67

    I can’t speak to how much the NAACP represents the interests of black people that are also likely voters, but the NAACP couldn’t wait to rush out and endorse Obama’s SSM position.

    Perhaps turnout is suppressed, but  agree with most on this thread Obama will still garner 90% or better.

    • #21
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    @ConservativeWanderer
    Kofola: Come now…

    Are we really so desperate to start doing the happy dance over a random poll, in June, that suggests something of dubious sustainability?

    Let’s maintain a little bit of perspective here…. · 25 minutes ago

    Indeed.

    PPP is also not the most reliable of pollsters. I’m taking that poll with a Lot’s-Wife-sized grain of salt.

    • #22
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    @JamesOfEngland
    Paul A. Rahe

    Redneck Desi: There is no way Romney gets more than 10% of the national black vote. No Way. Obama will not get the incredibly massive turnout that he had in 2008, but a majority of african-americans will pull the lever for “their” guy even with this economy, with abandoned D.C. voucher program, gay marriage, and the general overall incompentance. 

    A majority, yes. A majority would vote for any white Democrat. But 90%? I wonder. ·

    He could easily fall below 90% in North Carolina, a state where Obama went out of his way to disrespect conservatives, including black conservatives, but there’s no way that he drops below 90% overall.

    It’s worth keeping in mind that the marriage amendment was quite recent, and that generally one would expect the impact of that sort of thing to die down with time if no event renews its relevancy. Part of the problem Republicans, including African Americans, have with African American outreach is that we don’t have the infrastructure to keep our messages in the public mind, so Obama’s missteps are quieter than his “successes”. (eg. defending id-less voting and Holder from racism, issuing “obamaphones”).

    • #23
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    @ScottR

    And what would draw a different segment of the black vote away from the Democratic party — a much bigger segment — is if the Dem establishment, led by the Clintons, begins fleeing and attacking Obama as he sinks in polls. The resentments would be deep and could help to liberate blacks in the longterm — a great development for them and the Republican Party.

    • #24
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    @Gretchen

    Everyone seems to agree it is extremely unlikely, but if it happened it would mean that those who said electing Barack Obama would mean the end of race-based politics were right. Just not quite in the way they thought. We can dream.

    • #25
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    @Percival

    We can’t know if the poll is an anomaly or not, but if Obama’s percentage of support among the African-American community were to fall under 90%, the denial coming out of the MSM will reach levels that would make Walter Duranty blush.

    • #26
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    @AaronMiller
    wmartin: …. There has been an enormous shift in favor of gay marriage among blacks in the last month, as they adjust their “deeply held moral principles” to match Obama’s. 

    That’s not what I’ve witnessed among the blacks I interact with here in the Deep South. Their faith is resolute, though shallow. They are dumbstruck by the growing normalization of gay relationships… and are wary of Obama for his support of it.

    Many can be sheep, yes. But they trust their pastors more than Obama.

    I’m currently reading a history of the Church called Triumph by H.W. Crocker III. This bit, about the decades after Constantine’s death, fits this discussion well:

    …. In Gibbon’s marvelous summation, the “divisions of Christianity suspended the ruin of Paganism” and the pagan “religion which had so long… been established in the Roman Empire was still revered by numerous people, less attached indeed to speculative opinion than to ancient custom.” It was the strength of the Catholic Church — however embattled it now was — that it recognized that “ancient custom” had a greater claim on men’s hearts than did “speculative opinion,” ….

    Poor black Americans generally respect, if not understand, tradition.

    • #27
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    @PaulARahe
    BrentB67: I can’t speak to how much the NAACP represents the interests of black people that are also likely voters, but the NAACP couldn’t wait to rush out and endorse Obama’s SSM position.· 2 minutes ago

    The NAACP has not represented ordinary African-Americans for a very long time. It is a lobby for the black elite. You have not seen black ministers in any number lining up behind Obama’s position.

    • #28
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    @ConservativeWanderer
    Paul A. Rahe

    The NAACP has not represented ordinary African-Americans for a very long time. It is a lobby for the black elite. You have not seen black ministers in any number lining up behind Obama’s position. · 8 minutes ago

    The NAACP has not represented ordinary African-Americans for a very long time. It is a lobby for attacking conservatives. You have not seen black ministers in any number lining up behind Obama’s position.

    There. Fixed that for ya, Professor. :)

    • #29
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    @PaulARahe
    ConservativeWanderer

    Paul A. Rahe

    The NAACP has not represented ordinary African-Americans for a very long time. It is a lobby for the black elite. You have not seen black ministers in any number lining up behind Obama’s position. · 8 minutes ago

    The NAACP has not represented ordinary African-Americans for a very long time. It is a lobby for attacking conservatives. You have not seen black ministers in any number lining up behind Obama’s position.

    There. Fixed that for ya, Professor. :) · 2 minutes ago

    You improved it.

    • #30
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