There was a time in American politics when most voters in America were white. Nothing earth shattering there as our politicians and voting contingent were representative of how this country once looked.
President Obama’s victory on Tuesday cemented a shift in America’s voting demographic and here’s why. According to exit polls conducted by Edison Research, 59 percent of white voters cast their ballots with the name Romney circled and it did not matter. That is the first time in U.S. history that a presidential candidate has not ascended to the White House by carrying so much of the white vote.
For many traditionalist Republicans who have long relied on the majority vote, or the white vote, this had to be shell shocking news. Searching hard enough, one may be able to find Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh hiding in a closet in Georgia or Alabama.
The times are a changing.
This election may be the bellwether of when and how voting finally changed in America. For the first time ever, and certainly in my lifetime, candidates will have to place an emphasis on speaking to the needs of minorities, like Hispanics and Asian-Americans, not just white people.
Those same exit polls also revealed that, 73 percent of Asian’s went for Mr. Obama. Only 26 were for Romney and 27 percent of Hispanics voted for the former governor.
The person who decides to make a run for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, post Mr. Obama, will have one very powerful voting bloc to speak with, Hispanics, and a growing influence from Asians.
Furthermore, while Hispanics and Asian’s supported President Obama, over 20 percent of both groups went for Romney. Comparing Romney’s numbers with the Hispanic community to President George W. Bush in 2004, there was a 20 percent drop-off. President Bush received 44 percent of the Hispanic vote just eight years ago.
With these new numbers, where does this leave African-Americans? They overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama, giving him 93 percent of their vote. I would venture to say that’s a crushing majority.
Back in 2000 when Al Gore ran for president, he received 90 percent of the black vote and Senator John Kerry enjoyed 88 percent of black support. Going back even further, former President Jimmy Carter matched President Obama’s support with 93 percent.
Over the next four years, I feel a certainty that Hispanics will push Mr. Obama for responsible immigration reform. Other issues are important for them, just as they are for others, but this one is paramount.
If the president is able to make good on this promise in the next four years, the Democratic Party may be able to count on the Hispanic vote for the next 10 to 15 years.
But for black people, where will the challenge be for President Obama? Is it jobs? The economy? Gun control and crime?
As of October 2012, the unemployment rate for blacks was still outpacing that of others. The job numbers for the nation continue to slowly improve, but they are getting worse for the black community. Over 170,000 new private sector jobs were created in October, giving new hope that the economy is improving. But black women took a very damning hit. The jobless rate for black women actually got worse, going from 10.9 percent to 12.4 percent.
If jobs are the chief concern for the black community, then it is time for Mr. Obama to answer the call to address black unemployment.
Back in 2008, he enjoyed a buoyant 95 percent support from blacks and 93 percent this time around; I believe there is a little payback due on his part and the Democratic Party.
If the black community fails to challenge Mr. Obama on issues directly afflicting them, then I believe this amounts to giving him a blank check to handle other matters, not as important to African-Americans.
As the demographic continues to shift away from the traditional, black people better quickly find a new seat at the voting table. If not, this may signal the slow erosion of black voting importance.