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The Voice of the Black Community

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Race played a role in turnout
Anti-Obama attacks spur black voters
 
Published Wednesday, November 7, 2012 1:11 pm
by Cheris F. Hodges, for The Charlotte Post

In 2008, the vibe surrounding the presidential election could’ve been described as historic and electric.
Fast forward four years and there is anger, disillusionment and possible disenfranchisement enveloping a group of voters.
Since President Barack Obama took office, the Republican controlled House of Representatives has blocked bills including a jobs bill in 2011. The passage of healthcare reform, called Obamacare as a slur from many on the right, revealed some deep seated racial anger.
Did the perceived disrespect of America’s first black president cause black voter anger and pushed Obama supporters to the polls?
Davidson College political science professor Susan Roberts said voters are angrier this election cycle, but many black voters have used theirs to turn out more aggressively at the polls.


 “Obviously, the president has been treated very badly,” said Wendy Covington of Raleigh.
“Race plays a big part in what’s been going on. I believe there are some in this country who would rather see the country suffer so the black president will fail.”


On Tuesday, Anthony Norman made it his business to encourage voters to stay in long lines and cast their ballots.
“If I can help people focus on something other than the time they may spend in line waiting to vote, either by conversation or by offering them a snack or a drink, then that is the least I can do,” Norman said. “President Obama won North Carolina by 14,000 votes last election so every vote is crucial.”


Obama narrowly lost North Carolina Tuesday as the GOP won big, taking over the governor’s mansion, keeping control of the General Assembly and taking the U.S House of Representatives Eighth congressional district seat and keeping control of the Ninth.


Norman said he isn’t angry, but he thinks Obama has done a good job as president and wanted him to have a second term.


“While I have not agreed with every position he has taken, when I look at his body of work I am thoroughly impressed.  Some of his ideas were big (healthcare, auto industry bailout, Wall Street Reform, doggedly pursuing bin Laden) some were based on fairness (Lily Ledbetter Act, Consumer and equality, repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell), but the fact that he was able to accomplish so much with a congress that was determined to see him fail is nothing short of remarkable,” Norman said. “2008 was historic and there will never be another opportunity to elect the first black president.  …However, we can now make history in re-electing the first black president.”  


While Norman passed out provisions and offered rides to voters in need, Brian Springs wondered if angry white voters would make the difference in the tight race.


“Will the racists come out in spite of?” he questioned. “I think the people who support the president will vote to keep him in office.”


Johnson C. Smith University assistant professor of political science LaTonya Williams Ph.D, said Obama’s first win was historic and people were excited about the idea of being able to elect the first black president.


“It was a great sense of pride and jubilation amongst African Americans and possibly the general public. There was a sense that the US had moved in a post-racial direction. Most political scientists don’t agree with that and there’s no substantive evidence that is the case; but there was the perception that if America was willing to elect an African American president then that would demonstrate that the racial wounds had been healing,” Williams said. 


But what followed were perceived acts of racism and disrespect, from S.C. representative Joe Wilson yelling ‘you lie’ during the president’s speech on before Congress in 2009, the contention surrounding the passage of health care reform and coverage for undocumented immigrants to effigies of the President hanging by a noose in Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention.


“There is polling that suggests there is an increasing anti-black and anti-Latino sentiment. And there’s this perception that there’s been repeated racial transgressions against Obama,” she said. “Among the black electorate, there is a sense that the office of the president has been disrespected and that Obama as an African American has been disrespected as a consequence of race.”


The result of those perceptions? During the final days leading up to the election, the Obama campaign urged voters to take that anger to the polls and vote. That momentum seemingly pushed the president to a second term.


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