Program Success November 2014 | Page 10

Where Did All the Black Voters Go on Election Day ?

African-American turnout was down and less than enthusiastic without President Obama on the ballot .

Black Voters Election Day , President Barack Obama Charles D . Ellison Orlando , Florida November 2014 l ith midterm hangover setting in , many will chatter and finger-point into next month about what happened , who did
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what and why . And at the center of it will be questions about the black vote . In crucial Senate and gubernatorial races where the black vote was needed most-Arkansas , Georgia , Kentucky , Illinois , Louisiana , Maryland , North Carolina-Democrats faced humiliating blows to the stomach .
Of course , we ' ll hear a number of narratives strung through news cycles , along with crafty theatrical descriptors : the Obama Haters Club election . The Obamacare Sucks election . The Return of the Angry White People election . The Ferguson election . The election in which only 18 percent of the population followed the election closely-and more than 60 percent of those who did voted Republican .
In large part , especially as we tiptoe through the exit polls , it ' s safe to claim that Tuesday night was all of the above in historic droves . This was more than a " Chaos Election ," as Brookings fellow Bill Galston sublimed . This election was a knee-jerk reaction to the chaos of stereotypes that white pundits are totally not talking about . Feeling threatened by Ebola , rioting people of color and YouTube decapitations , anxious white voters had about enough : Their vote spiked 3 percentage points higher than in 2012 , to a 75 percent share of the 2014 electorate . Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reedsaw it coming , when failed Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn ' s campaign pushed out badly played and last-minute Ferguson mailers to mobilize Georgia ' s black voters . Said Reed , "[ W ] hen you are trying to hold on to a regional share of the white electorate , those kinds of pieces have to be handled very delicately ."
As tragic as it was-and as hard as the social-justice crowd tried to make it otherwise-the African-American voting bloc found itself inadequate against the flood and , frankly , not energized enough to hold the dam .
Observers and organizers will go back and forth on this point . Some are already crying foul , rightfully so , over nasty Republican tinkering vis-a-vis voter-ID laws , rigged voting schedules and mysteriously closed polling stations . Those factors had some effect on something , but it ' s still too early to tell exactly what and how much . But based on what the pre-election surveys and first-waveexit polls say , this was a weak black vote with a 12 percent nationwide share of Tuesday ' s electorate .
We get the point : President Obama wasn ' t on the ballot . And it showed . White people were voting in stronger numbers than in 2012 . In contrast , the total people-of-color voter share dropped from 28 percent in 2012 to barely 25 percent in 2014 . So now Democrats have two midterms to prove that it ' s not their party mobilizing Obama coalition voters-it ' s Obama .