For one reason or another, African-Americans just aren’t turning out in droves to early vote.
Eight years ago, Black enthusiasm was through the roof as the nation moved to elect its first Black president. That fervor has seemingly decreased since then — particularly in key swing states, — putting presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton in a tough place.
According to the New York Times, early voter turnout among Blacks in North Carolina is down 16 percent, while white voter turnout increased 15 percent this election year. Reasons for the sharp decline could be both political and strategical, however.
For instance, the New York Times reports that Republican-run election boards curtailed the number of early voting sites throughout the state and were also accused of using tactics to intentionally suppress Black early voter turnout. The FBI’s renewed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails may have also put a damper on early turnout among Black Americans.
Either way, the less-than-robust voter attendance has the potential to disrupt Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency. She’s already fallen behind GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump in the national polls — a first since May. Political experts say she’ll need the votes of non-white Americans to secure her spot in the White House.
“We’ve had back-to-back elections in this country of high turnout where Black voters have set the pace, and it’s going to be really interesting to see if the continues post-Obama,” said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster and author. “That is the big X-factor. Can we disconnect our mobilization, our messaging from the cult of the candidate?”
While Clinton is popular among Black Americans, the former secretary of state has struggled to garner the same level of excitement that Pres. Obama did in 2008 and 2012. This lack of enthusiasm is apparent in key battleground states like Florida, Iowa and Ohio.
According to CNN.com, Florida’s Black voter turnout dipped from 15 percent in 2008 to 12 percent this year. Turnout among whites has remained stagnant at 72 percent while Latinos increased their turnout from 9.4 percent in 2008 to 14 percent today. So far, only 22 percent of the ballots cast in this year’s election were from Black voters.
In Ohio, early voter participation in Democratic areas like Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo also suffered a decline, according to the New York Times. This is despite that fact that many African-American churches were leading voter drives across the Buckeye State.
“We need to continue to work,” said Addisu Demissie, a national voter outreach and mobilization director for the Clinton campaign. “We know that most people are driven by deadlines. And we will see, as we have seen in this campaign at every point, a ramp-up in activity and engagement from us as the deadline approaches.”
All hope isn’t lost for Clinton, however. The New York Times reports that the former First Lady still has a large advantage among early voters in western battleground states like Colorado and Nevada. The race for the presidency is still a close one — as Clinton could lose Ohio, Florida and North Carolina and still beat Trump, according to the newspaper.