A few weeks ago we pointed out that Obama enjoyed massive, unprecedented spikes in black voter turnout in both the 2008 and 2012 elections. After hovering around 50-55% for decades, black voter participation soared to over 60% in 2008 and 2012. That said, in the past we've raised serious doubts over whether Hillary should expect the same level of enthusiasm from black voters in this election cycle or whether overall turnout of black voters would revert back to pre-Obama levels.
Unprecedented black voter turnout was a huge component of Obama's victories in 2008 and 2012. Per the chart below from the New York Times, after running in the low-to-mid 50% range for decades, black voter participation surged to over 60% for Obama in 2008 and 2012, the highest ever recorded.
So, the question is, should Hillary expect the same level of unprecedented black voter turnout that Obama was able to garner? Apparently, her campaign is not convinced and that's why, according to Leslie Wimes, President of the Democratic African-American Women Caucus, they're in "full panic mode."
Well, early voting data out of some key swing states seems to reveal that, in fact, black voter turnout is reverting back to pre-Obama levels, which is a terrible sign for team Hillary. According to Old North State Politics, early voting data out of North Carolina suggests that black voter turnout is down roughly 7 points, as a percent of the overall electorate versus 2012, implying that cumulative black votes are down around 16%.
As a reminder, Mitt Romney won North Carolina in 2012 by slightly over 2 points. Given that black voters usually favor democrats by 80-90%, simple math implies that a 7-point reduction in blacks as a percentage of the overall electorate would hurt Hillary by roughly 6 points versus the 2012 results....not encouraging to say the least.
Meanwhile, the outlook is even more troubling in Florida as black composition of early votes is down 9.5 points versus 2012.
According to a recent article by Politico, in 2008 and 2012, Obama received 95% of the 1.7mm votes cast by black voters in Florida. Given that, simple math would imply that a 9.5-point reduction in blacks as a percentage of the overall electorate would hurt Hillary by roughly 9 points, versus the 2012 results, which is disastrous news for a state that Obama narrowly won by less than 1 point.
Unfortunately for Hillary, a recent poll from Florida Atlantic University provides even more bad news. While Obama received 95% of the black vote in Florida in 2012, Hillary is only polling at 68% among black voters while Trump is polling at 20%. And, at least according to the president of the Democratic African-American Women Caucus, this math has the Clinton campaign in "full panic mode." Per Politico:
"Hillary Clinton's campaign is in panic mode. Full panic mode," said Leslie Wimes, a South Florida-based president of the Democratic African-American Women Caucus.
"They have a big problem because they thought Obama and Michelle saying, 'Hey, go vote for Hillary' would do it. But it's not enough," Wimes said, explaining that too much of the black vote in Florida is anti-Trump, rather than pro-Clinton. "In the end, we don't vote against somebody. We vote for somebody."
But, we won't hold our breath until the various polls around the country adjust their "ethnic oversamples" accordingly.