Early Voting Turnout Among African Americans is Low; Signaling Problems for Hillary Clinton.

Posted on November 2, 2016 by


For Ms. Clinton and the Democratic party, the low voter turnout among the African-American community has been down thus far in 2016; indicating a foreseeable hurdle the Democratic party believed would be a significant challenge in a post-Obama political landscape. The conversation surrounding the repression of Black enthusiasm has been tied to the historic highs of voter turnout the Democratic party gained during the past two electoral cycles; signaling the first time in voter history (2012) in which higher numbers of Black voter went to the polls than whites. According to the Census Bureau, 66.2% of eligible black voters voted in the 2012 election, compared to 64.1% of eligible white voters. 1.8 million more black voters went to the polls, in which over 90% voted to re-elect President. Obama.

The reason for the decrease in the black voter turnout is multifaceted, tied into the (hostile) political discourse of this election, voter restriction policies, and the increased political consciousness related to the enfranchisement of black voters since 2008. In North Carolina – a key battleground state – the Federal appeals court argued that Republicans crafted an “almost surgical” assault to curtail black voter turnout; marginalizing early voting sites located within densely populated black voting areas. This same early voting turnout has continued to hurt the Democrats in crucial battleground states such as Florida; in which we’ve seen a decrease in the state’s early Black voting from 25% (2012) to 15% (2016.) These challenges for the Clinton campaign have come to ahead in several key states. Obama will address voters in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Wednesday; before the event, Obama spoke on a radio station in North Carolina saying, “I need everybody to understand that everything we’ve done is dependent on me being able to pass the baton to somebody who believes in the same things I believe in…” President. Obama has continued to echo this sentiment while advocating for Ms. Clinton; arguing that a lack of support and possible Donald Trump presidency would undermine and devalue his presidency. While states such as North Carolina and Flordia have continued to garner attention due to the lack of black voter turnout, heavily black populated areas in Ohio such as Toledo, Cleveland, and Columbus have also encountered early voting issues due to location cutbacks and marginalization.

While a lot of focus has been placed on black voter (lack of) enthusiasm – connected to Obama’s ending presidency – and voter impediment and restrictions, an essential aspect in the lacking of early voter turnout amongst black voters is paralleled into the uncertainty and unfavorability many black voters have towards Hillary Clinton. Many conversations surrounding the two most famous (Bill) Clinton-era legislative achievements have come to ahead, both of which, adversely impacted black America. Michelle Alexander – the author of “The New Jim Crow” – makes this case in her article for The Nation, pointing to the 1994 crime bill and 1996 welfare reform bill as reasons why the Clinton presidency was horrible for black America; and subsequently, why she doesn’t warrant the black vote. This growing political consciousness within the black community has led to many black voters abstaining from voting; arguing that within their own moral consciousness and self-interest, voting for Ms. Clinton is illogical. These legislative policies; which both Ms. Clinton and former president, Bill Clinton, have apologized for during this campaign process – including Ms. Clinton’s comments directed at black men, in which she referred to millions of people within the black community as “super predators” has not gone unnoticed. While Ms. Clinton has pushed for criminal justice reform, the advocation by Ms. Clinton surrounding legislative policies that contributed to black prison populations skyrocketing, including the three-strikes provision and increased number of capital crimes is an underlying contributing factor to the lack of support Ms. Clinton has garnered from many members of the black community. The black population is currently disproportionately incarcerated, with black men six times as likely to be incarcerated as white men, according to the Pew Research Center.

While Ms. Clinton will receive the majority of the black vote come November 8th, the lack of support she has received early on during this early voting period is telling. While those outside of the black community will focus on voter repression – through discriminatory and racialized policies – the willingness of the black collective to vote their own interest and not simply vote for Democratic policies/agendas based upon loyalty and tradition is also essential moving forward post-Obama too.

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