Despite Democratic bombshell, Black voting experts anticipate high turn out

blackvotersurvey( — Now less than a week before Election Day 2016, Black voting experts say they see strong and steady voter participation and voter enthusiasm among African-Americans, the constituency that votes most faithfully for the Democratic ticket. At this point, it’s all about whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will reach 270 electoral votes first. Black turnout will be key, especially Black women who are expected to carry the election.

Melanie Campbell

Melanie Campbell

It has been a vitriolic campaign between Democrat Hillary Clinton and her Republican opponent, Donald Trump. There have also been two last minute bombshell revelations involving both camps.

In early October, the Trump campaign was hit with audiotapes of Donald Trump making vulgar remarks and boasting about sexually groping women. Though at least 12 women have now come forth accusing Trump of having groped or kissed them without permission, he has called them all “liars” and threatened to sue them while describing his foul language as “locker room talk.”

Then, last week, only 10 days before the election, the Clinton campaign was hit by an announcement from FBI Director James Comey, saying the FBI is now investigating newly discovered emails that may or may not affect their closed investigation into whether Clinton sent classified emails from a personal computer server. The new emails are not Clinton’s. They apparently belong to her former aide and longtime confidant Huma Abedin, the wife of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is under FBI investigation for allegedly sexting with an underage girl.

The Clinton campaign has fired back, accusing the FBI of a “double standard” for not also announcing its probes into alleged connections between the Trump campaign and Russia among other possibly Trump-related investigations. Meanwhile Clinton insists the new investigation will find “nothing criminal.” Abedin says she is not aware of her e-mails being on her now estranged husband’s laptop.

President Obama says he stands by Comey’s integrity. But Comey, a registered Republican first appointed by President George W. Bush, has been criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for not giving more details when he released the Clinton announcement.

With both controversies raging, more than 22 million people have already cast their ballots in early voting. All eyes are especially on the 11 so-called “battleground states” states that have historically swung between Republican and Democratic. They are Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies has given an indicator of Black participation by conducting a recent ‘Poll on Black Voter Enthusiasm.’

The poll results range from Black voter enthusiasm as high as 90% in the Midwest to the lowest of 75% in the West, still relatively high.

The following are the Joint Center findings:
• Most voters said they intended to vote, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

• An overwhelming majority of Black men and women said they saw the 2016 race as a high-stakes election.

• Among voters planning to cast their ballots for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, African Americans were more likely than Whites or Latinos to describe their choice as a vote for Hillary Clinton, rather than as a vote against Donald Trump.

• Among Black voters who intended to support the Democratic nominee, a majority of older voters described their choice as a vote for Clinton. Younger Black voters were more likely to describe their choice as a vote against Trump.

Despite her observation of high voter turnout, Campbell says she remains concerned about Black millennials, many of whom strongly supported the Democratic candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sanders is campaigning strongly for Clinton this week, but millennial voters, even according to the Joint Center survey, still appear sluggish in their enthusiasm for Clinton. Some question whether they vote at all.

Though the economy and jobs run high among the issues that concern older Black voters, criminal justice issues are foremost on the minds of young voters with affordable education close behind. The Black Lives Matter movement has raised the issue of disparate police killings of Black people to the level of a presidential political issue.

In 2008 and 2012, with the nation’s first Black president on the ballot, Black turnout was well above 90% in both elections.

But with Clinton being the first woman president, it is not clear whether the historicity will transfer to Black voters. But, where the historicity will not transfer, Black leaders believe the issues will.

In a Clinton campaign media conference call with Black Democratic leaders, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) quoted former President Bill Clinton in his response to Donald Trump’s motto, ‘Make America Great Again.’

Polls in the last week before the election showed Clinton still leading Trump by at least five points nationally. Butterfield predicts a Clinton win on Tuesday Nov. 8.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the assistant Democratic leader was also on the phone. He said African Americans know the importance of all elections. But particularly this one has far-reaching consequences.

“I believe this election, this year, is probably the most consequential, at least, of my lifetime,” he said. “Are we going to elect leaders who will embrace our nation’s diversity and offer concrete solutions to make sure all Americans are able to succeed irrespective of their backgrounds? Or are we going to turn against one another, assigning blame and acting out in anger instead of finding solutions to our greatest challenges?

“It wasn’t too long ago that we made history, about eight years to be exact, by nominating and electing and re-electing our nation’s first African American president. Those were historical accomplishments for the Democratic Party. This past summer, we made history again by nominating the first woman to contend for the presidency by any major party. But, just because we made that history, we must not rest upon our laurels. We have to work as hard as we can…to make sure that nomination will not be in vain. This is going to be a very tight race and if we are successful on Nov. 8, we will smash through the remaining, ultimate glass ceiling by electing a woman to become president of this great country of ours.”