With economic issues propelling many voters to the polls experts agree that voter turnout will outpace the 2004 election. But, could African American voter turnout really reach 95% to 100% in key states this election? NBC News’ political analyst Chuck Todd thinks it’s possible.
Appearing on Meet the Press Sunday, Todd said African American voter turnout could range from 95% to 100% in key swing states this election. Todd, NBC News’ political analyst, said full participation for blacks in traditionally GOP leaning states is possible. He also noted that African Americans are taking advantage of early voting in many swing states. The Associated Press reported that 31% of early voters in North Carolina are African American. In 2004 they made up 19% of the state’s overall vote. So far, 36% of early voters in Georgia are black. The numbers of black civic participation already outpaces the 2004 election and the big day is not even here yet. But it’s hardly on track with the 95% Todd projects.
Other experts place the African American turnout rate between 65% and 70% this year. Those numbers may also be on par for Georgia and other historically “red states.”
Because of felony disenfranchisement laws, a significant number of African American males are ineligible to vote in Georgia, says David Bositis, a senior political analysis at the Joint Center on Economic Policy and Study. Bositis says this would make it impossible for voter turnout among blacks to reach 90% in the state. However, he does project a 25% to 30% increase in black turnout from the 54% in 2004. “If Obama could get 25% of the white vote combined with the 70% of black turnout then he could win the state,” he says. Signaling victory may be beyond his reach in the state, Obama pulled campaign advertising out of Georgia in September.
It’s not the southern states where African American turnout could use a boost. Michael McDonald, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute says African American turnout in the south is level with whites. “You find lower [voter turnout] rates in heavily urban areas like Chicago and New York,” McDonald says. “Virginia is one of a few southern states where African American turnout lags behind white turnout.”
What has voters coming out in droves this election? There are a number factors in play. The ailing economy’s ripple affect has heightened voter interest. Not to mention, Obama is the first African American nominee running on a major party ticket. “If there’s an interesting election people will overcome barriers in their way and go out and vote,” McDonald says. He adds that intense door-to-door canvassing and other groundwork by both parties has also spurred voting.
In 2004 white voter turnout was 67% while the African American rate was at 60%. McDonald says if