Ethnic and racial changes in America signal bad news for Obama in 2012. His most fervent supporters, blacks, are now outnumbered by Hispanics, according to Census figures. This means African Americans will likely lose a “substantial amount of political clout,” scholar Torrence Stephens forecast March 28. He is assistant professor of behavioral Sciences at Rollins School of Public Health. The black vote was 98 percent for Obama in 2008.
The country’s population now consists of 196.8 million whites, 50.5 million Hispanics, 37.7 million blacks, and 14.5 million Asians. Latin voters shifted in impressive numbers away from Republicans in 2008, which gave Obama large margins of victory in three battleground states: Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.
But the Obama “spell” among Latinos is fading. For a group that supported Obama heavily in 2008—who won 67 percent of their vote – only 43 percent of Hispanics polled by Univision at the end of last July say Obama is addressing their needs. Another 32 percent said they were uncertain, and 21 percent said the president has done a poor job. In New Mexico, for example, Gallup polling last June found Obama support down to 57 percent from 69 percent in 2008.
The number of Hispanics has risen from 35 million in 2000 to its present 50.5 million. Moreover, they are no longer concentrated in a handful of Southwestern states, where they have lived for decades. They have moved to all parts of the country. The largest percentage increases have been in southern states, where many Republicans now thrive. The Hispanic population has more than doubled in Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, as Linda Chavez has pointed out, with census counts surpassing previous estimates by more than 10 percent in Alabama, Louisiana, and Maryland. Ms. Chavez is an author, columnist and chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity.
Obama and his Democrat tribe thought they had a golden opportunity to capture the affections of Hispanics a year ago when Arizona passed its reasonable but strict immigration-enforcement law. The president welcomed the opportunity to try to pulverize the Republicans on immigration reform. He spent more time in April and May grousing about Arizona’s law then he did doing anything constructive about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Republicans fretted that the Arizona law would make it hard to attract Hispanic voters. But an October story by Hotair.com reported Hispanic voters’ support for Democrat candidates waned in September and October, cutting the backing of Democratic candidates edge from 32 percent support to only 13 percent.
Obama shut up about Arizona’s law when it was clear that it was popular around the country and other states were passing similar laws. For Hispanics, immigration is not their single concern in life. Like everyone else, they are jittery about the foul economy, federal debt, and joblessness. They also expect competence and fiscal responsibility, both of which are sadly missing.
“African-Americans in the South are moving away from urban areas for the suburbs at the highest levels in decades,” writes Professor Stephens. And “the proportion of blacks in large metropolitan areas residing in the suburbs reduces the number in urban areas.” He says that 58 percent of the blacks in the South live in suburban neighborhoods, compared to 41 percent in the rest of the country. “As cities depopulate their traditional African-American constituency,” their political power “is now being dispersed.”
A February poll conducted by ImpreMedia and Latin Decisions found that while Obama’s approval rating among Latinos had reached 70 percent, some 43 percent of those polled were not sure they will vote for him in 2012. Their approval rating is spread over varying degrees of support, according to an article in Politic.365.com. Only 32 percent strongly support the president, with 38 percent somewhat approving. That’s a fairly sharp turn from the 60 percent support counted by Latino Decisions last September.
Obama’s image started to perk up “when an attempt was made to pass the DREAM Act, which ended up failing,” observed Matt Baretto, Latino Decisions pollster and professor of Political Science at University of Washington. The DREAM Act intended to provide conditional permanent residency for certain alien students. Obama “has the ability to win the Latino vote….But when it comes to whether they will vote for him for sure,” Barreto added, “Latinos show a margin of doubt.” Congressional Republicans’ opposition to the DREAM Act bought no love from Latinos.
As for Asians, Gallup found that 41 percent identify themselves as Democrats, with another 41 percent calling themselves independents, and 16 percent preferring the Republican label. The polling also discovered that 46 percent consider themselves moderate compared with 31 percent who say they are liberal.
“If Obama wants to be re-elected, he is going to have to generate more enthusiasm among Latinos,” predicted Adrian Pantoja, professor of political studies and Chicano/Latino Studies at Pritzer College, Claremont, CA. ”In reality, there is little enthusiasm about,” he commented.
The Rasmussen Reports March 30 poll of its sample of all voters found only 24 percent approve of the way Obama is performing, with 41 percent strongly disapproving. The image of the “Anointed One” is getting shaky.