I am 25 years old. I have an advanced university education, have lived in multiple countries, and can at least pretend to follow conversations and/or read in four languages. I know some stuff. I speak well enough to convince you that I know about other stuff too. The following post will be a combination of stuff that I know and stuff that I’m using my informed opinion to discuss.
We get it: Mitt Romney is the Great White Hope and Barack Obama is hoping to hold off Romney’s large (and alarming, in supposedly post-racial America) lead amongst white male voters by cobbling together a constituency of women, minorities, young people, and the remaining white males.
RealClearPolitics predicted in June that Mr. Romney would need to win approximately 61 percent of white voters in order to overcome President Obama’s sizeable leads with minorities. President Obama’s weak showing at his first debate has likely dropped that required number down, but the Romney campaign still needs to win a significant majority of white votes to win the election.
The problem isn’t that the Obama and Romney campaigns are trying to win with whitey…. The problem is that the Romney campaign doesn’t have to even try to do anything to win minority votes. They can live with just a spoonful.
How can a candidate in 2012 run a campaign where they can count on virtually zero votes from black Americans? We only have two major parties at the national scale, and one of them fully expects to win the 2012 Presidential Election having done nothing to reach out to black voters, young people, or Hispanics.
The reason is simple: these groups don’t vote. More accurately, they don’t vote in large enough numbers.
The Census Bureau released a detailed report on voter turnout for the 2008 election and the numbers are fairly shocking. We all heard that then-Senator Barack Obama was buoyed into office thanks to huge increases in youth voting. In reality the 2008 turnout of 49 percent among 18-24 year olds means that the majority of America’s high school graduates and/or college students chose not to exercise their voting rights. The 2008 figure was 5 points higher than the figure from 2004, but still miles away from where it ought to be.
What about minorities?
In May Fox News’ Juan Williams predicted that minority voter turnout would decide the election. That prediction may still hold true; if minorities don’t show up at the polls Mitt Romney could walk away with an upset victory over President Obama.
In 2008, according to the above Census Bureau report, only 31.6 percent of Hispanics voted in the general election. Less than 61 percent of blacks voted in the general election. Both of these figures represent an increase from 2004 and each group was much more politically engaged than ever before, but those gains from four years ago need to stand if Democrats can count on minority votes this November.
Just last month The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that minority voting was up in Georgia. It will likely not be enough to put Georgia in play for Democrats in 2012, but if the facts in Georgia are similar elsewhere in the United States it could mean that minority voters will maintain a voice in electoral politics.
President Obama is not Jesse Jackson. He is not the candidate of the blacks, or the minorities. He is a member of an elite, ultra-educated class and happens to be less likely to ruin life for the little guy than his cartoonish adversary, Mitt Romney.
When forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, minorities in the United States overwhelmingly choose President Obama – though those numbers have begun dropping.
Unfortunately, if they don’t physically show up at the polls from now until November 6, a very large chunk of the American population might be unhappy with this election.