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Since we’re bringing election updates and analysis straight to you here at Shaarp Session, we thought we’d invite a few guest bloggers to share their perspectives too. Below, Ralph Everett from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies talks about why this election is so important – especially for African Americans. Read on:
This is a historic election – in more ways than one.
Take, for example, the issue of voter turnout. With record numbers of new voter registrations and polls showing enormous interest in this election among a broad cross-section of the voting age public, the number of Americans who will cast ballots in this election may surpass the previous record.
The same goes for turnout among African American voters. We expect that African American turnout will increase by about 20 percent and thereby establish a new record for black voter turnout. This increase is driven by strong concerns about the economy and the war in Iraq as well as the historic candidacy of Senator Barack Obama. A surge in black voter turnout would continue a trend that we saw in 2004.
We expect that as young African Americans have been most electrified by the candidacy of Senator Obama, they will record the greatest increases in turnout. In addition, we would expect turnout to reach a zenith among African Americans age 50 and over – because there is enormous interest and concern in issues such as affordable health care, retirement security and family financial security. All of these issues will be affected by the policies and programs of the next President of the United States. Our polling has shown that Social Security is important to retirement security among African Americans, with some one-third of them expecting that it will be their major source of income in retirement. In addition, large majorities of black voters think the next President should do something to ensure that health care is affordable.
Given the stakes, it is difficult to imagine that there are any African Americans under the age of 25 or over the age of 50 who will sit this election out. The surge in interest and participation – something the Joint Center has promoted for nearly 40 years – is a great thing for our country and for the prospects of America becoming that “more perfect union” we all know it can be. If you are one of the few who hasn’t yet voted or made plans to cast your ballot, what are waiting for?
Ralph B. Everett
President and CEO, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies