Obama Says Black Turnout “Not as Solid as it Needs to Be”

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Black voters showed up in historically large numbers in 2008 and 2012 to help elect Barack Obama to the White House. Will that trend continue in 2016? If early voting numbers are any indication, black turnout will be a bit lower than in the previous two elections. And on Wednesday, President Obama, in an interview with radio host Tom Joyner, said African-American turnout is “not as solid as it needs to be,” for his preferred successor, Hillary Clinton.

“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,” he said, noting that Trump might even rip up Michelle Obama’s vegetable gardens.

Obama has been pushing this message in the weeks leading up to Election Day, and in the midst of the early voting period, when compared to 2012 numbers, the number of black voters casting ballots early has dipped slightly. For instance, in North Carolina, blacks have cast 23 percent of the state’s early votes, 111,000 less than at this point in 2012, when they made up 28 percent of early voters. Clinton is failing to muster Obama-level enthusiasm among black voters in Florida as well.

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina tried to change the state’s voting laws, but a federal court struck down the measure because it “targeted black voters with surgical precision.” Obama told the audience at a rally in Chapel Hill on Wednesday as much, adding that it is now “easier to vote than ever” in North Carolina. “What’s our excuse?” he added.

Obama is not the only Clinton acolyte making an 11th hour pitch to black voters. Bill Clinton visited Detroit on Wednesday and met with black ministers. But Obama–who captured 95 percent of the black vote in 2008 and 93 percent in 2012–is Clinton’s most valuable and vocal supporter in the waning days of the election.

He warned voters on Wednesday of the implication a Trump White House could have on his legacy: “If we let this thing slip and I’ve got a situation where my last two months in office are preparing for a transition to Donald Trump, whose staff people have said that their primary agenda is to have him in the first couple of weeks sitting in the Oval Office and reverse every single thing that we’ve done.” 

Alec Siegel
Alec Siegel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. When he’s not working at Law Street he’s either cooking a mediocre tofu dish or enjoying a run in the woods. His passions include: gooey chocolate chips, black coffee, mountains, the Animal Kingdom in general, and John Lennon. Baklava is his achilles heel. Contact Alec at ASiegel@LawStreetMedia.com.



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