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Will Obama's base make the case?

By Starla Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Nov 5, 2012 - 11:59:53 AM

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Photo: Americans casting ballots at a polling place. Photo: MGN Online
(FinalCall.com) - The 2012 U.S. presidential election pitting incumbent Barack H. Obama against Republican challenger Mitt Romney comes to a head Nov. 6 and if polls, surveys and political analysis are any indication, the race is neck and neck.

At Final Call presstime, according to the latest Gallup Poll, President Obama was ahead 48 percent to Governor Romney’s 47 percent among registered voters. However, among likely voters, Mr. Romney showed a 50 to 47 percent edge.  The Pew Research Center showed Mr. Romney with a 49 to 45 percent lead.

Both candidates were busy hitting key battleground states including Ohio, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and Florida, scene of the third and final debate between the two men.

Mr. Obama received overwhelming support in 2008 from Blacks, Latinos, youth and women, his core voting bloc. The president’s job approval rating among these groups is still strong with overwhelming job approval ratings of 87 percent from Blacks and 70 percent from Latinos. Among women, Mr. Obama at one point lead by 16 points, now it is a virtual dead heat according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

What remains to be seen is if the core constituency along with young voters and enough Whites will turn out and cast their votes for Mr. Obama to win a second term. However, the one thing on which most analysts agree is that if his base fails to rally en masse and get to the polls, he will lose.   

Some observers note a lack of enthusiasm and support from 2008. Sixty-three percent of voters 30 and younger said they plan to vote, down from 72 percent in 2008, according to the Pew Research Center.

A group of Black pastors have been vocal in their launch of an “anti-Obama” campaign attributing their lack of support to the president’s support of gay marriage. There are reports of Black pastors telling their congregants not to vote in the presidential election at all.

Both President Obama and Governor Romney snubbed an invitation by several prominent Black organizations to participate in a forum to discuss issues critical to the Black community.

Yet, there is no indication these dynamics will have any effect on Black people’s support for the president. 

President Obama’s base is not only energized but people are going to go to the polls and vote, said Rep. Maxine Waters, (D-Calif.) speaking recently in Los Angeles with some of her supporters.

“They’re doing telephoning into some areas, but they’re concentrating on the states that can be key to the electoral votes. When you hear them talk about paying attention to Ohio, Florida and Virginia, a few other places and now I think Iowa is in the mix, it’s because these are the states that are going to make the significant difference in terms of the electoral votes,” said Rep. Waters when asked if the president and his campaign are doing enough to energize his base.

He is “basically, depending on us to turn out and vote. And I know a lot of people get a little bit concerned about that,” said Rep. Waters, who has served in the U.S. Congress since 1991. 

Rep. Waters said a local pastor expressed concern to her when President Obama did not visit area churches while he was in town a few days prior.

“Well, I said to them, one of the things we’ve got to do is trust him. We’ve got to trust him. I’ve got some questions too and he knows it, but we’ve got to trust him and say that in the next four years, he’s going to do a lot of the things that people have been hoping for and looking for. But we’re going to let him get by on what he had to do in order to stay there so he could be free enough to do what we want him to do,” said Rep. Waters. 

Dr. David Bositis, a senior research associate with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, told The Final Call President Obama remains the favorite in the election.

“If you look at the states, he has more electoral votes than Romney and he’s got a lot more different avenues to get to 270. Romney has to really win almost all of the swing states in order for him to win. If Obama wins Ohio and Iowa, he will probably be re-elected,” said Dr. Bositis.

A candidate must have 270 electoral votes to win the presidency, regardless of who wins the overall popular vote.

“In terms of the base vote, I don’t know whether the turnout for example of African Americans is going to be as high but if it’s not I don’t think it’s going to be a lot lower. I think it will just be slightly lower,” added Dr. Bositis.

Bruce Dixon, managing editor of the Black Agenda Report agrees Mr. Obama’s base will show up, just not in the same numbers.

“The Obama administration has been really lax in discerning the vote until the last, last, last minute. So they’re definitely going to lose millions of votes through theft and through people getting turned away in the polls that they didn’t have to lose because they were just lazy. So who knows how this is going to turn out,” Mr. Dixon, chairman of the Georgia branch of The Green Party, whose candidate Dr. Jill Stein is also running for U.S. president.

“He should win, if there is an honest count of course, but there hasn’t been honest counts for a long time, so who knows?” he added.

Mr. Dixon told The Final Call the argument that if elected for a second term, President Obama will be in a better position to enact more policies to benefit Blacks in particular, is what he calls, “The Obama Delusional Effect,” and added that the major party candidates are two sides of the same coin.

The Latino vote is also considered by pundits to be key in the election. The number of eligible Latino voters has increased by four million since 2008. Yet of the 23.7 million eligible Latino voters the percentage that will hit the polls election day remains to be seen.  Seventy-seven percent of registered Latino voters are “absolutely certain” they will vote, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Sixty-seven percent of adult Latinos said the Latino vote will have a major impact in determining who wins noted the group. 

There is always an element of people “hyping” the Latino vote, said Angelo Falcon, president and co-founder of the National Institute for Latino Policy. Every community does this he told The Final Call in a recent telephone interview. Latinos voted overwhelmingly, 67 percent, for Mr. Obama in 2008.

In an Oct. 11 study by the Pew Hispanic Center, Latino voters supported President Obama by a three to one ratio but are less certain about voting than Blacks or Whites.

According to Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia are all battlegrounds with significant Latino voter populations.

“There’s that natural attempt to try to hype the importance of your community, so in this case with the Latino community, there is this discussion about the ‘sleeping giant’ and really being what determines the outcome. It all really depends on how close the election’s going to be,” said Mr. Falcon, also a political scientist and adjunct assistant professor at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs in New York.

“From the polls it seems that it’s going to be a very close election and in those circumstances the Latino vote obviously grows in importance. But if it wasn’t as competitive an election, it’s conceivable the Latino vote wouldn’t be important at all. So I really think you have to look at it from the point of view of the closeness of the election and the size of the Latino vote,” he added.

Arizona may be a key state due to its heavy Latino population. Although Mr. Obama lost the state to 2008 Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain and is currently lagging behind Mr. Romney, it still may be in play. An average of four polls by Real Clear Politics.com showed Mr. Romney leading 48.3 to 43 percent.

“There’s been a buzz that he (President Obama) may even win Arizona … the numbers are close,” said Cloves Campbell Jr., a former Arizona state representative and co-publisher and chairman of the Arizona Informant, the state’s oldest Black-owned newspaper.

Mr. Campbell, who also serves as chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents over 200 Black newspapers nationwide and includes The Final Call, said there is overwhelming support by Blacks in Arizona for the president.

“The Latino community I think is a little bit different. I think you have two different types of Latino voters. One is the extreme voter who is a liberal person that wants to continue and see support from the president. But on the other side you have that Latino person who wants to identify themselves with the conservative White folks. That group of people is still out here in Arizona and I think that they are going to support Mitt Romney,” said Mr. Campbell.

(Charlene Muhammad contributed to this report.)

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