The depressed state of the American economy has claimed yet another important victim: the voter registration rolls of blacks and Hispanics—two voting groups that will prove crucial to the re-election hopes of Barack Obama.
A story in the Washington Post, using numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, revealed that the number of registered black and Hispanic voters has fallen precipitously since the 2008 election. The primary reason given is the state of the economy—when people lose their jobs to layoffs or their homes to foreclosure and they have to move, their registration status changes, too, until they register at their new address. The collapse of the economy has disproportionately affected blacks and Hispanics, though the story pointed out that the registration numbers for white voters also declined at roughly the same rates.
According to the Post story, the number of registered black voters dropped 7 percent, while the number of Hispanic voters fell 5 percent nationwide. The Hispanic decline is more acute in a few states that will be vital to Obama: over 28 percent in New Mexico; about 10 percent in Florida.
“The only explanation out there is the massive job loss and home mortgage foreclosures, which disproportionately affected minorities,” Antonio Gonzalez, president of the William C. Velasquez Institute, a nonpartisan policy group that focuses on Latinos, told the Post. “When you move, you lose your registration.”
While campaigns don’t usually start the voter registration enrollment drive until about two or three months before the election, the Obama campaign has started much earlier—leading many political experts to predict that the campaign will have re-registered the millions of blacks and Hispanics it will need to win before the November election.