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Majority of Young African-Americans Optimistic About The Country’s Direction Despite High Unemployment Rate

Unemployment has ravaged their group more than any other, but a recently released poll shows that 59 percent of young African-Americans aged 19-29 feel as if the country is “moving in the right direction.”

Tufts University’s youth research organization, The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) released the poll this week.

The study revealed that young black voters largely feel as if the general condition of the country is improving, while only 23.6 percent of white youth agreed with that assessment. Young Hispanic voters were the largest group to be unsure about the direction of the country.

According to the Department of Labor, the unemployment rate among African-American men over 20 years old was at 13.4 percent by September of this year, compared with 6.6 percent of white men over 20. Unemployment among African-American women over 20 was at 10.9 percent, compared with 6.3 percent among white women over 20.

Unemployment among black men and women has fallen 2.4 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, since September 2011.

The poll shows that President Barack Obama has the lead among young voters of all subgroups, with a 17-point lead over his Republican challenger in former Governor Mitt Romney.

Since July, President Obama has gained support from registered, extremely likely young voters, but to a lesser extent from White likely voters compared to Latino or African-American likely voters. Between July and October, Romney has lost support among likely African-American voters (five percentage point loss), and even more so, Hispanic voters (17 percentage point loss). Conversely, President Obama has gained support (14 percentage points) from young Hispanics since July.

There is an ongoing gap between which groups of youth are going to vote in the election. According to the poll, nearly 75 percent of blacks under 30 years old say it is very likely or extremely likely they will vote in next week’s 2012 presidential election, compared to 68.7 percent of whites and 56.6 percent of Hispanics.

The poll, administered by GfK Knowledge Networks, polled 1,695 young voters in June and July, and 1,109 of the same group of youth between Oct. 12 and 23.

Black youth who were contacted were overwhelmingly reached on behalf of the Obama campaign, whereas white and Hispanic youth were equally contacted by both campaigns.

Perceptions of each candidate differed based on race and ethnicity, with Black youth feeling the most enthusiastic about President Obama. Black youth were most likely to say they were “admiring” of him (55.3 percent), while Hispanic youth were most likely to say they were “satisfied” (44.5 percent). White youth were most likely to say that they were “disappointed” with Barack Obama as president (45 percent).

Over 80 percent of Black youth were either disappointed or angry with Mitt Romney (41.1 percent disappointed; 40.5 percent angry), whereas White youth were most likely to be satisfied with him as a candidate (33.8 percent). Hispanic youth were most likely to be disappointed with Mitt Romney (44.6 percent).

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