Nearly three weeks after Election Day, they are counting ballots in Alaska and five House races remain undecided.
Still, the 2012 election cycle is underway. Democratic strategists are meeting, planning and plotting.
Black women are also meeting, planning and strategizing. They are determined to change the conversation and demand a seat at the table.
Dr. Boyce Watkins of AOL Black Voices recently interviewed me about black women and the midterm elections. I would like to share some excerpts:
What is the event you’re planning and what is the reason for holding the event?
The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation Black Women’s Roundtable is holding a Power of the Sister Vote post-election briefing. The reason is captured by a Ghanaian proverb, “Until the lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” Given the lack of diversity in the mainstream media, we have to tell the story of black voters and the 2010 election. And the story is, black voters turned out.
Pundits blame low black turnout for Democratic losses. They compare 2010 turnout with 2008, but that is like comparing apples and oranges. Turnout is always higher in a presidential election year. The relevant comparison is 2006, the last midterm election.
Exit polls show black voters made up 10 percent of the electorate, the same share as in 2006. We won’t know the turnout rates until the U.S. Census Bureau releases its report on registration and voting in the 2010 election (in about a year).
Today, Dr. David Bositis, a senior research analyst with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, released a report, “Blacks and the 2010 Midterms: A Preliminary Analysis.” And guess what, y’all -- black voters were in the house.
The bottom line: There was a modest increase in black turnout nationally. There were “impressive increases” in California, Delaware, Illinois, New York, Ohio and Texas. In Pennsylvania and Nevada, there were “small increases.” To be sure, Democrats were hoping for a presidential-year surge of black voters but that didn’t happen. It didn’t happen because Democrats did nothing to make it happen. As National Newspaper Publishers Association Chairman Danny Bakewell wrote, the Democratic National Committee did “too little, too late.”
What do you expect to see in the next presidential election? How will it affect our community?
I expect President Obama will receive 95 percent of the black vote. That’s a pretty safe prediction given that Democratic candidates typically garner 90 percent of the black vote. It remains an open question whether there will be a record turnout of black voters. Even if 100 percent of eligible black voters turned out and gave Obama 100 percent of their vote, that would not be enough to get Obama reelected.
Obama will have to shore up his base at the same time he reconnects with independents. He has his work cut out for him. A new Politico poll found that only 26 percent of Americans thinks he will be reelected. If the overall unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent and most Americans still think the country is headed in the wrong direction, then Obama will be one and done.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our AOL Black Voices audience?
I would like to share the words of wisdom of soul singer-turned-philosopher James Brown: “Get up, get into it, get involved.” Too often our civic engagement begins and ends with voting. But voting is an event. To have a measurable impact one must stay engaged and get involved. It doesn’t mean that one has to become an activist. I do it because it’s in my DNA.
The Tea Party movement is a model for civic engagement. They made their voices heard at town hall meetings, letters and phone calls to Congress, rallies, etc. They vowed to hold members of Congress accountable to their agenda. And they did.
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