Obama's Thirteen Percent
By all accounts the 2008 Presidential election between Barack Obama and John McCain resulted in a record voter turnout. Final numbers tallied showed that 131.3 million voters cast their ballots compared to the 2004 presidential election total of 122.3 million. Obama won 365 Electoral College votes to McCain’s 173, with a popular vote of 69,456,897 to 59,934,814.
It’s a known fact that African Americans played a key role in the 2008 election by delivering a 95% voting block for then presidential candidate Barack Obama. Exit polling further confirmed that it was this type of impressive voter turnout by African Americans and African American females’ ages 18 – 29 that helped Obama be competitive even in states he lost, such as Mississippi and Georgia.
The issue of race itself turned out to be a slight factor among some voters before and after the election, but a poll taken by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal in 2008 showed that only 2% of the voters said that race made them more likely to vote for Obama while 4% said race made them less likely to vote for Obama. 2% were not sure how it influenced them and 92% said race was not a factor (margin of error was + 2.9%).
Exceptional participation like that of African American voters in southern states like North Carolina, provided a 74% voter turnout compared to a 69% voter turnout of the state’s overall population. The jump in African American participation nationwide represented a 1.9% increase, up from 11.1% during the 2004 election to 13.0 % in 2008.
Since being elected, Obama’s relationship with African Americans remains a topic of discussion among political pundits on the right and from within African American communities nationwide. The verdict is still out on whether African Americans will show up in mass to vote for Obama this time around. Obama’s dilemma may be that he is the president of the United States of America and not just Asian, Caucasian or Black America. African Americans continue to question whether their patience and support for him will be rewarded if the country as a whole recovers economically? Or will the issues of black unemployment, crime and education continue to plague their neighborhoods.Continued on the next page