WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign recently launched a radio ad aimed at African-American voters titled “We’ve Got Your Back.” But will enough African-American voters have his in November?
There’s no doubt that African-Americans will vote for him in overwhelming numbers. Instead, the debate among African-Americans is whether a president who’s gone out of his way to court other groups such as gays or Hispanics with specific policies has done enough to address their unique political issues. And is it enough for them to surge to the polls again in 2012 as they did in 2008.
There’s also a deep sense of loyalty and pride. African-Americans have a unique place in the American political system, suppressed then rescued by the federal government. Now for the first time they see one of their own at the pinnacle of that government.
That sentiment isn’t universal. Obama’s attention to other major blocs in the Democratic coalition stands in contrast to his approach to African-Americans, some note.
“A lot of blacks are dissatisfied with Obama, but blacks are loyal to a fault,” Owens said. “They’re just so happy to have a black president, but that black president has to live up to the same standards of a white president. Being black doesn’t give him a pass.”
“People are seeing other constituencies getting their issues addressed and are wondering why is it that African-Americans haven’t been able to get their issues on the national agenda,” said Fredrick Harris, the director of Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African-American Studies and the author of the book “The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and the Rise and Decline of Black Politics.” “Black unemployment is high. People feel like there needs to be targeted efforts.”
Sensing an opportunity, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will address the NAACP on Wednesday.
“Unlike President Obama, (Romney) will not take any vote for granted,” said Tara Wall, an African-American adviser for Romney’s campaign. “Every percentage point that we chip away from President Obama counts. . . . While Gov. Romney acknowledges that he will not get a majority of support from black voters, he also recognizes that President Obama can no longer count on the margins he once enjoyed. We aim to seize on those opportunities.”