Is President Obama having a problem with African-American voters? Some pundits worry that he is, and at least one national poll has produced a worrisome number, but the large-sample national tracking surveys show that the level and intensity of Obama’s overall approval rating among blacks remains largely undiminished.
Obama won the White House in 2008 with the help of record high support and turnout from African-American voters. While black voters have long voted overwhelmingly for Democrats — national exit polls show the Democratic presidential candidate winning between 83 and 90 percent of the black vote between 1980 and 2004 — Obama did even better, winning 95 percent in 2008.
Moreover, African Americans turned out in record numbers that year. The U.S. Census Current Population Survey found 64.7 percent of blacks said they voted in 2008, falling less than two percentage points shy of the turnout reported by whites (66.1 percent), and all but erasing a persistent voter turnout gap that had been evident in 2004 (7.2 percentage points), 2000 (5.0) and 1996 (7.7).
Can Obama’s campaign win the same levels of black voter support and turnout in 2012, especially given a faltering economy and declines in his overall approval ratings?
Pollsters have a tough time tracking sentiment among relatively small population subgroups, like African Americans, that can yield less than 100 interviews on a typical national survey. So to minimize the random variation from small samples, it is best to look beyond single surveys and focus instead on larger collections of data.
The Gallup Daily tracking polls are one such source. Gallup interviews 500 Americans each day, allowing for combined weekly samples of roughly 3,500. Their weekly tracking broken out by race shows that Obama’s approval rating has seen a small decline among blacks, from an average of 92 percent during 2009 to 86 percent so far in 2011.
Source: Huffington Post | Mark Blumenthal