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Obama worries black vote is not solid enough for Clinton

  • President Barack Obama greets supporters while campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Chapel Hill, N.C., Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) Gerry Broome

  • Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. speaks at a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Reverend Samuel Delevoe Memorial Park in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Andrew Harnik

  • President Obama smiles as he begins to greet guests on the tarmac upon his arrival in Morrisville, N.C., on Wednesday. ap



Associated Press
Thursday, November 03, 2016

President Obama twice generated a historic wave of African-American support on his way to the White House, but worries now the black vote “is not as solid as it needs to be” for Hillary Clinton.

Obama’s and Clinton’s travel schedules are taking them to swing-state metro areas with significant black populations, and the two officials are fixtures in black-audience media. Their message is consistent: Clinton will fight for the black community, while Republican Donald Trump would turn back the clock for voters that helped propel Obama to comfortable national victories. Former president Bill Clinton is pitching in too, with an unannounced stop in Detroit on Wednesday night to meet privately with black ministers and boost his wife’s chances in Michigan.

“I need everybody to understand that everything we’ve done is dependent on me being able to pass the baton to somebody who believes in the same things I believe in,” Obama told nationally syndicated radio host Tom Joyner in an interview broadcast Wednesday.

Obama said early voting is up among Hispanics, but not among black voters. The president warned that Trump would obliterate his record, even digging up first lady Michelle Obama’s White House vegetable garden. “You think I’m joking?” Obama asked.

Hours later, he reminded an enthusiastic audience in Chapel Hill, N.C., that Republicans in the state tried to make it harder to vote with sweeping election law changes, only to have a federal court strike down the law because it “targeted black voters with surgical precision.”

So “it’s easier to vote than ever” in North Carolina, Obama said. “What’s our excuse?”

Black voters’ share of early ballots request is also down a few percentage points in Florida and Ohio, though the Clinton campaign points to strong early turnout in key urban counties with large numbers of blacks and Hispanics.

To be clear, Clinton will win the black vote by overwhelming margins, just as Obama and a generation of Democratic presidential nominees before him. On her way to her party’s nomination, Clinton won more than 3 out of 4 black voters. And even with an apparent tightening of the general election in the final weeks, Clinton still has many more paths to the required Electoral College majority of 270 votes than does Trump.

Yet, problems could arise for Clinton if Trump draws a surge of white support. That would make her African-American margins and the overall black turnout especially critical in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.