President Obama extolled the virtues of Hillary Clinton and warned of the dangers of Donald Trump, and then he boiled it down to a personal appeal:
“I need you to go out and just nag the heck out of folks who aren’t voting,” Obama said Friday. “I need you to tell them that Barack is personally asking them.”
It was no coincidence that he took this message to Fayetteville State University, a historically black college in North Carolina, the battleground state with the highest percentage of black voters.
Troubled by early voting statistics, Obama is exhorting black voters to turn out for Clinton as they did for him. But Obama faces a host of challenges in trying to hand Clinton his near-unanimous share of record-breaking black votes in 2008 and 2012. Not only is he not on the ballot, but Democrats also worry that Trump and the Republicans are trying to suppress black votes.
If blacks don’t vote, Obama said recently, he’d take it as a “personal insult” to his legacy, which depends largely on a Democratic successor who would keep his executive actions intact.
One Democratic North Carolina congressman is worried enough to be “sounding the alarm.” As the state wound down its early voting this weekend, some 22% of early ballots had been cast by black voters — down 8% from 2012.
“President Obama will take it as a repudiation if we don’t vote,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who is chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “We’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen. We’ve got to protect the Obama legacy.”
Clinton may be making up some of the difference with white college-educated voters, who flock to her more than they did to Obama, said Michael Bitzer, a Catawba College political science professor who has has been tracking the early voting statistics in his state over the past few days. In addition, the number of ballots cast by other minorities, including Latinos and Asians, are up, he said.
“Could she be making up that deficit in black voters in other areas? Most definitely,” he said. “But this is a whole new dynamic.”
Republican analysts have predicted for two years that a drop in the black vote would be a big factor in the 2016 presidential race. The midterm losses for other Democrats were warning signs, said Kevin Madden, a GOP strategist and former senior advisor to Mitt Romney.
Source: LA Times | Christi Parsons and Chris Megerian