Thursday, April 17, 2014
Suzanne Gamboa / The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
President Barack Obama answers a question during a news conference at the White House recently. Black leaders are trying to leverage a greater share of attention from both Obama and Congress.
In Missouri, a state Obama lost in both elections, the black vote went from 13 percent to 16 percent of all voters.
Bositis said the black share of the vote remained roughly the same at 23 percent in North Carolina, which Obama narrowly won in 2008 but lost in 2012, and 13 percent in Florida, which Obama won both times. In Virginia, which Obama won in both elections, black voters were 20 percent of all voters, he said.
Women and people from ages 18 to 29 had the strongest participation levels in the black community.
In 2008, black women had the highest turnout rate, 69 percent, of all groups. Their 2008 record created a sense of obligation among some black female leaders to take an active role against new state voting laws they said threatened to curb black voter participation. Black women made up 60 percent of the black vote this year and voted 95 percent for Obama.
The enthusiasm of black women was demonstrated in Florida when more than 250 churches marched their congregations to the polls as part of the "Souls To the Polls" early voting campaign, said Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. A large percentage of the marchers were women, Campbell said.
"Countless women stood in line for hours to vote early so they could volunteer to work at the polls to help in the fight against voter suppression," Campbell said.
Black voters ages 18-29 made up 26 percent of the black vote nationally, a turnout close to what it was in 2008, according to the national exit poll. They voted 91 percent for Obama.
Republicans had reached out to black voters in 2004 and saw their share of the black vote increase in that election, Bositis said. But he said that in 2012, the outreach was nonexistent.
Michael Steele, former Republican National Committee chairman, said the GOP had an opportunity this election to connect with black voters on unemployment, health disparities, incarceration and other issues.
"How the heck do you win if you don't engage in the conversation?" Steele said.