Blacks fleeing Democratic foldgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
By DEBORAH ORIN
October 30, 2002 -- WASHINGTON - Experts predicted black turnout in next Tuesday's election - a key to Democratic success - will be "uneven" after a new poll found that the share of blacks who see themselves as Democrats is shrinking.
Two years ago, 74 percent of blacks identified themselves as Democrats and just 4 percent as Republicans - today 63 percent are self-described Democrats and 10 percent Republicans, according to the Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies poll.
The number of blacks who see themselves as independents also rose - from 20 to 24 percent.
The shift is most dramatic among blacks aged 26 to 35 - where Democratic identification is now about 56 percent, independents 29 and Republicans 15.
"The loyalty of older African-Americans for the Democratic Party is certainly not there for younger African-Americans and every year more of the older African-Americans die or drop out of voting," said David Bositis, an analyst at the center which focuses on minority voters.
In recent elections, Democrats have counted on close to 90 percent support from blacks while Republicans have sought small inroads, saying if they can just get 15 percent among blacks, it would make it very hard for Democrats to win in many states.
In the 1996, 1998 and 2000 elections, Bositis accurately predicted strong black turnout to buoy Democrats nationwide but this year he says it's likely to be "uneven" from state to state.
"In some places, I think the black vote will be outstanding, in some places OK and I think there will be some places where it will be disappointing," he said.
Democratic pollster Ron Lester agreed: "The African-American base is probably not as energized as it should be. In certain states that will change, but overall I'm not sure."
Lester said Bill Clinton remains a powerful boost for Democrats among blacks but "I don't believe the messages we have this time are as compelling as they were last time when it was, ‘Bill Clinton's our friend and they're messing with him.' "
-- Anonymous, October 30, 2002