By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent
WASHINTON (NNPA) – Despite efforts in some states to suppress the Black vote and predictions that African-Americans would not turn out at the rate they did in 2008, Blacks overcame all obstacles and were key to Obama’s re-election to a second term, an analysis of voting data shows.
Exit polls show that 93 percent of Blacks voted for Obama this year, down slightly from the 95 percent rate in 2008. But voting for all groups was down this year compared with the presidential election four years ago.
Obama carried every age bracket by at least 90 percent, but there was a gender gap among African-Americans, with 96 percent of Black women voting to re-elect the nation’s first Black president and only 87 percent of men supporting Obama. Four years ago, there was only a one-point difference separating the two groups, with women giving Obama 96 percent of their vote, compared with 95 percent for Black men.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney received only 6 percent of the Black vote, which was 2 percent higher than John McCain in 2008 but less than 11 percent achieved by George Bush in 2004 when he defeated John Kerry.
“The African American vote was crucial for President Obama in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia,” said David Bositis senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
Obama defeated Mitt Romney in the battleground state of Ohio 50 percent to 48 percent. Blacks, who increased their share of the electorate from 11 percent in 2008 to 15 percent in 2012, gave 96 percent of their vote to President Obama, providing him with more than his cushion of victory.
Blacks also provided with Obama more than his margin of victory in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia, all battleground states and all carried by Obama.
Obama also won 71 percent of the Latino vote, compared with 27 percent for Romney; McCain got 32 percent of the Latino vote in 2008, which was less than the 43 percent Bush received in 2004.
The Latino vote was credited with carrying Obama to victory in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. His showing among Latinos was an improvement over the 66 percent share he won four years ago.
Romney won 59 percent of the White vote, compared with 39 percent for Obama, but that was not enough to overtake Obama’s progressive coalition of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, unmarried women and low-income voters.
“[The 2012 presidential election] will be the last campaign where one of the major parties seeks to get elected solely with the White vote,” said Bositis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
Speaking at a post-election briefing on “The Impact of the African American Vote on the 2012 Presidential Election,” Bositis said that this election was a clear showing that the country is a now a multiracial, multi-ethnic country.
After losing to a president presiding over high unemployment and a sluggish economy, Republicans have been engaged in some public soul-searching, realizing that they must broaden their appeal if they want to remain competitive in national politics.
Where Republicans have effectively abandoned opportunities to appeal to Black voters, the Democratic Party effectively mobilized African Americans to combat voter suppression efforts in battleground states said Lorenzo Morris, chair of the Political Science Department at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
“Blacks will continue to support the Democratic Party at high levels and they were definitely supportive of Obama, but I doubt that we would have seen the same level of turnout had other issues not mobilized Black voters during the election,” said Morris.
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver suggested that overtly racist remarks by Republicans also fueled the heavy Black voter turnout.
Cleaver pointed to Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) comparing the president to “a tar baby” in 2011, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) shouting “you lie!” during President Obama’s 2009 speech on health care before a joint session of Congress, and Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) calling for a “great white hope” for the Republican Party.
“That’s the stuff that kept Romney’s numbers low and that will keep the next Republican nominees numbers low,” said Cleaver. “What they will have to do when people make those statements is say, very openly and publicly, ‘We don’t want you in our party.’”
But that hasn’t happened. Instead former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, a top Romney surrogate, described the president as “lazy” and charged for former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Obama only because both are Black, a comment Sununu later retracted.
Although several highly visible Latinos have been mentioned as possible presidential candidates in 2012, Congressman Cleaver said it will take more than a few Spanish-speaking candidates to alter the GOP’s direction.
Cleaver said that African Americans and Latinos should form strong political ties because it’s clear that they control the outcome of elections in certain states, including many of those deemed pivotal in winning presidential elections.
The universal support Obama saw among Black voters on Nov. 6, does not mean he will get the kind of pass he received his first term on issues important to African-Americans. In fact, Cleaver was widely criticized during Obama’s first term for saying: “If we had a White president, we’d be marching around the White House.” He said had Hillary Clinton defeated Obama and won the presidency, for example, he would have told her, “My sister, I love you, but this has got to go.”
Cleaver hinted that Obama might not be as lucky his second term, when he won’t have to run for re-election.
The Kansas City congressman said, “[Blacks] are enormously committed to President Obama and loyal to him, but many of them have complained about the deficit in attention.”