Voter turnout for midterm elections tends to be anemic compared to presidential contests. In 2006, for example, only 45.8% and 38.6% of registered white and black voters, respectively, actually cast ballots. In 2008, however, voters exceeded all expectations, moved by the opportunity to elect Barack Obama into office as the nation’s first black president and his clarion call for change.
Now the country is bracing for another change, especially African-Americans and Latinos, who some experts say could feel the brunt of the blow if power shifts in Washington and the GOP gains control. As in previous midterms, voters this year will likely express their dissatisfaction with the majority party by staying home or shifting support. According to political analysts, Democrats will realize significant losses in the House or U.S. Senate, or they will participate in a repeat of 1994 when conservatives took control of both houses.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn concedes the change promised by President Obama has been slow in coming; but the upcoming election is all about protecting hard-won reforms in areas very important to us: the economy, healthcare, small business policies and financial reform. “I’m convinced that if we do not have a turnout in minority communities at least equal to our percentage of the voting population,” he says, “we could very well see ourselves turning the clock back on so many issues that were very important to those communities.”
To help you be informed and prepared when you go to cast your vote on Tuesday, November 2nd, Blackenterprise.com will highlight important races with African-American candidates across the country. During the next week until Election Day, we’ll tell you where the candidates stand, why the race matters, who their opponent is, what the key issues are and their chances of winning. See our first candidate below, and be sure to check in every day for others.
Candidate: Joyce Elliott
Opponent: Tim Griffin
Why the race matters: Elliot would be the first African American to represent Arkansas in Congress. A Democrat has held the seat since 1996, but the district is trending Republican.
Key issues: Education, jobs, and healthcare
Constituency: Arkansas’s 2nd Congressional district is majority white and encompasses Little Rock and several rural counties
Financing: Elliot has reported $489,755 in receipts as of June 30,2010. Her opponent raised $955,362 during that same period.
Political support: Former President Bill Clinton and several Congressional Black Caucus members have traveled to Arkansas to stump for Elliott
Chances of winning: Uphill battle