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The Black Vote (Past and Present)

By Mumia Abu-Jamal  Posted by Hans Bennett (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   No comments
Message Hans Bennett
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Although Blacks constitute a distinct national minority, because they have traditionally been politically active, they have had a disproportionate impact on the electorate and election outcomes.

Think of the squeaky-close presidential elections of 2000, which was decided by several hundred votes in Florida. While it is true that both Blacks and Hispanics constitute distinct minorities, most have forgotten that 8% of Blacks, and 31% of Hispanics voted for George W. Bush. And while Hispanics accounted for a mere 7% of the electorate that year, without a doubt their 31% vote for Bush contributed to his win, especially when one considers that in Florida, a significant percentage of Hispanics are Cuban-Americans, and thus they trend more conservative than say, Puerto-Ricans or Mexican-Americans.

In a recent report by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, we find that Blacks are far more politically active than commonly supposed. This is particularly so of Black younger voters, who are often portrayed as politically inactive or inattentive. According to the Joint Center, this portrayal is false, for their reporting reveals a cohort that is increasingly engaged in electoral politics. The report notes:

In 2000, African Americans between 18 and 29 accounted for 2.1 million votes, representing 2 percent of the voting total (105 million). In 2004, young African Americans (18-29) accounted for 3.7 million votes, representing 3 percent of the voting total (122 million). Thus, in 2004, 1.6 million more young African Americans cast ballots than in 2000. [p.2]

The joint Center for Political & Economic Studies has reported that Black voters, who remain overwhelmingly democratic, contributed winning perscentages in States where the Democratic candidate won. the 2004 presidential race, for example, featured a 2-to-1 split in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. The Joint Center reported:

Higher Black turnout contributed to John Kerry's narrow victories in Pennsylvania, where the black share of the statewide vote rose from 7 percent (in 2000) to 13 percent (in 2004, and in Michigan, where the black share rose from 11 to 13 percent. [.p2]

In Ohio, the Center reports, Kerry lost, and the Black vote showed a far more modest growth. Of course, the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama throws much of the traditional statistical analysis on its head, for, although he may be a Black candidate, the vast majority of his votes comes from white, majority populations, something frankly quite unprecedented in electoral politics.

No matter who becomes their party's nominee, and who ultimately runs in November, 2008, Black votes will undoubtedly prove pivotal.

The question, what will they get for such votes --but more false hopes?

--(c) '08 maj

{Source: Bositis, David S., "The Black Vote in 2004," Joint Center for Political & Economic Studies (Wash., DC: JCP&ES, 2004).}
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Hans Bennett is a multi-media journalist mostly focusing on the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and all political prisoners. An archive of his work is available at and he is also co-founder of "Journalists for Mumia," (more...)
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