So many of the results, so much of the fate of both the Democratic and Republican parties in states across the nation are dependent on whether Black voters come out to the polls today. But most experts don’t expect the Black turnout to be even remotely close to 2008 or 2012, when African-Americans surged to the polls to elect Barack Obama—in 2012 showing up in an even higher percentage than white voters.
The 2010 midterms brought bad winds for President Obama, as white voters came out in force likely to protest the controversial passage of his healthcare law and, in the process, took control of the House of Representatives. That has led to years of unprecedented gridlock and the most unproductive Congress in history. Now Americans are overwhelmingly disgusted with virtually every aspect of Washington DC, from the gridlock to the partisan spats to the ugly campaign ads much of the nation has had to endure in places where there are close races.
Most of the election models predict that Republicans will take control of the Senate this time, which would give them the authority to officially make the last two years of Obama’s term a living hell. They have promised hearings to investigate every issue they’ve been itching to revisit, they’ve promised a repeal of Obamacare, they’ve even promised to begin “prosecuting” the president and his administration—though they’ve had a problem articulating what the would prosecute him for.
But as both parties drop to their knees in prayer over the African-American vote, the Black community is left to wonder how all this attention might result in any changes in the community’s challenging plight. If the Black community surges to the polls and helps the Democrats hold onto the Senate and capture the governorships in competitive states like Georgia and Florida, will it mean the elected officials will suddenly become more interested in seeing jobs flow to the Black community so it’s unemployment rate is no longer double the national rate?
Will officials develop a greater interest in improving the woefully inadequate schools that many Black students are trapped in?
Will these elected officials decide that the mass incarceration of a generation of Black males is profoundly disturbing and work to remove inequities from the criminal justice system?
Will they labor to remove the blatant discrimination that still plagues the housing market and results in the redlining of African-Americans to segregated neighborhoods and struggling schools?
These are the kinds of questions that the Black community has begun to ponder out loud, which should bring a great deal of nervous soul-searching to the Democrats—and a realization to the Republicans that ignoring the African-American vote will no longer work as a model for electoral success.
The election experts will pore through the voting patterns today and for weeks to come to determine how many Black voters came out and how crucial was the community’s support to the electoral fortunes of politicians across the land. But in the months following the election, African-Americans are going to be keeping their own scorecard, paying close attention to the ways these elected officials make decisions that impact our lives.
In the final analysis, just as Americans have long exhorted each other to “make your vote count,” the Black community will be looking to see whether their support is going to count for something.