President Barack Obama twice generated a historic wave of African-American support on his way to the White House, but worries now the black vote “is not as solid as it needs to be” for Hillary Clinton.
Obama’s and Clinton’s travel schedules are taking them to swing-state metro areas with significant black populations, and the two officials are fixtures in black-audience media.
Their message is consistent: Clinton will fight for the black community, while Republican Donald Trump would turn back the clock for voters that helped propel Obama to comfortable national victories. Former President Bill Clinton is pitching in too, with an unannounced stop in Detroit yesterday to meet privately with black ministers and boost his wife’s chances in battleground Michigan.
“I need everybody to understand that everything we’ve done is dependent on me being able to pass the baton to somebody who believes in the same things I believe in,” Obama told nationally syndicated radio host Tom Joyner in an interview broadcast yesterday.
Obama said early voting is up among Hispanics, but not among black voters. The president warned that Trump would obliterate his record, even digging up first lady Michelle Obama’s White House vegetable garden. “You think I’m joking?” Obama asked.
Hours later, he reminded an enthusiastic audience in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, that Republicans in the state tried to make it harder to vote with sweeping election law changes, only to have a federal court strike down the law because it “targeted black voters with surgical precision.”
So “it’s easier to vote than ever” in North Carolina, Obama said. “What’s our excuse?”
An Associated Press analysis of early voting data in North Carolina shows blacks have cast 111,000 fewer ballots than at this point four years ago, when Obama lost the state by about 92,000 votes. Clinton aides note that GOP officials there reduced early voting sites for the initial week of early voting, and they say they can make up the difference by Election Day now that more sites are opening.
Black voters’ share of early ballots request is also down a few percentage points in Florida and Ohio, though the Clinton campaign points to strong early turnout in key urban counties with large numbers of blacks and Hispanics.
To be clear, Clinton will win the black vote by overwhelming margins, just as Obama and a generation of Democratic presidential nominees before him. On her way to her party’s nomination, Clinton won more than 3 out of 4 black voters.