I wouldn’t be terribly upset if Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) quit her day job, but I would advise her not to seek employment as a mind reader. A month ago, she used her special gift to tell a black audience what they were feeling—which was love for the president. A newly released Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests they were thinking instead about the color blue.
Make no mistake: A plurality of blacks still have Obama’s back. In numerical terms, 58% claim to hold a “strongly favorable” viewof him. At the same time, that’s a steep drop from the 83% who held that view just five months ago.
By way of explanation for the shift, the Post quotes Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University:
There is a certain amount of racial loyalty and party loyalty, but eventually that was going to have to weaken. It’s understandable given the economy.
The president cannot rest on his laurels with respect to black voter representation. Given the fact that people don’t necessarily strongly approve of President Obama, that could translate to less enthusiasm for his candidacy. That doesn’t mean they will vote for the Republican candidate. It means they will not turn out.
I submit that resting on his laurels is precisely what Obama has done with respect to black voters—and with good reason. As I wrote here, the president has long assumed he has a lock on the black vote, which is why he has not actively campaigned in the black community.
But black voters have given Obama little cause to think otherwise. Their approval ratings of him have been so distorted that one might adduce that the “racial loyalty” factor cited by Gillespie has been working overtime.
Many black leaders and commentators like the Post’s own Eugene Robinson have sought time and again to shift blame for Obama’s failings elsewhere. They have shouted racism at his critics and attempted to put a happy face on such dubious legislative achievements as ObamaCare. These efforts to protect and insulate the nation’s first black president have ultimately had a paradoxical effect—hurting not only him but them.
The new poll is a net positive. It shows that black voters are waking up to the truth, if belatedly. It implies that Obama will need to work for their vote—to earn it—this time around. Isn’t that how a democracy is really meant to function?
- Poll: Obama’s approval among blacks plummets—to 84%
- Black congressman who called Tea Party lynch mob doubles down
- Black politicians’ anger at Tea Party should be redirected at Obama
- Congressional Black Caucus, other blacks losing “hope” in Obama
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