Election 2012: Black voters united behind Obama

Por en English 11/6/12 6:43pm
Black voters in Chicago expressed unwavering support for President Barack Obama. JEWEL SAMAD/GETTY

It’s just after 6:00 p.m. here in Chicago and the polls close in less than an hour.

From there, the counting of the precious electoral votes will begin.

If President Barack Obama follows in the path of Bill Clinton and is re-elected, it will be in no small part due to the unwavering support of black voters.

Obama captured 95 percent of the black vote in his historic victory over John McCain in November 2008 and appeared poised to do even better in 2012, according to some reports.

In August, a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll said that Mitt Romney received 0 percent of support from black voters.

We spoke this afternoon to a number of black voters and heard a consistent and vigorous endorsement of the president over his Republican rival.

“I don’t have any complaints with Obama,” declared Kishia Yancy, a beautician in his home neighborhood of Hyde Park.

Other black voters echoed Yancy’s sentiment.

And if this year’s election lacked the exuberant outpouring of his historic election four years ago, there was a sense among some that perhaps this election is even more important.

“In 2008 it was important because of the first black president,” said Kenneth Wilson, a social worker who was waiting to pick up some food at Cafe Luciano near 22nd and State before fetching his 11-year-old daughter from school.  “Now it’s more about the agenda and direction of the country.  In a way, it’s more important.”

Toyia Pullum, an assistant principal at Stagg Elementary School, agreed.

“The biggest difference is the whole historical thing is not playing as big a part,” she said.  “It’s all about politics and what’s best for our country.”

Both Wilson and Pullum attributed Romney’s complete lack of support from black voters to statements such as those he made during the “47 percent” video released by Mother Jones.

“His message is of an elitist,” Wilson said.

Andre Price, a former resident of the Ickes housing development, was standing near a bus stop on 22nd and State Streets.

“He’s trying to be a president for other people,” said Price about what he described as Romney’s orientation toward wealthy people. “We want a president who’s for all people.”

Both Gillum and Yancy said this year’s vote was tinged with more anxiety than in 2008 because they wanted to help the president gain re-election.

Yancy predicted that the community would come out strong for Obama, citing the example of a friend who voted for the first time today.

But not all black voters were planning to participate.

“I’m not going to vote nothing,” said Francine Yates. Like Price, she was waiting at the bus stop at 22nd and State.  “I didn’t vote in 2008.”