Will High Black Unemployment Rates Affect Obama in 2012?

Will High Black Unemployment Rates Affect Obama in 2012?


Last week the Department of Labor confirmed that the African American community continues to be among the hardest hit by the economic recessions, with an estimated 16.2 percent of blacks unemployed in June, compared to 8 percent of whites, and 9.2 percent for the overall population. The figures sparked outrage from many in the black community, who demanded that this president do more.

“Can you imagine a situation with any other group of workers… if 34 percent of white women were out there looking for work and couldn’t find it?” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “You would see congressional hearings and community gatherings. There would be rallies and protest marches. There is no way that this would be allowed to stand.”

Despite the outrage from Cleaver and other black leaders who are dismayed at President Obama’s seeming unwillingness to create economic policies that are targeted towards the black community, history shows that these new unemployment rates may not have much of a factor in the way the black community votes in 2012.

After the big swing of black votes to the Democratic Party after Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal began being implemented during the Great Depression, African Americans have remained loyal to the Democrat party, whether they’re economically prosperous or impoverished.

David Bositis, a senior researcher at The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, believes black voters will stick to the trend.  “I doubt it’s going to have much affect on the election.” He says Obama has tried to help the black community through initiatives like the healthcare reform, but is “limited” because of the divided Congress, a fact that the black community understands.   “He’s not God.  There’s a limit to what he can do while Republicans are in control.”

This spring, as black unemployment rates climbed, Obama’s approval rating among blacks took a hit, declining about seven percent since March to about 85 percent, but still remains overwhelmingly high for the Democrat.

While “it’s the economy, stupid” was a famous war room slogan used by the Clinton Administration to sum up the importance of the economy to the voting public, a 1992 study by professors Susan Welch and Lorn Foster, backs up the idea that the personal economic conditions of blacks don’t necessarily affect voting behaviors.  “Among blacks, income does not have a significant relationship with voting, contrary to its relationship to voting in the population as a whole.”*

They found that African Americans are more likely to be concerned with perception of the African American community at large, rather than individual success, meaning that if it seems as if blacks are “making it,” despite factual reality, blacks are more likely to vote for the party that they believe is helping them attain that success.

“Black perceptions of the gains and losses of blacks in general and the nation as a whole were significantly related to vote choice,” they wrote in the study.

And the statistics back them up.  Report after report reveals that black America is seriously suffering; yet the black community generally remains optimistic about their future.  A Pew Research Center study found that 53 percent of blacks thought that the economy was looking up in 2010-when black unemployment was at its peak.

This may prove why the first black president is not likely to loose his overwhelming black voting block.

Newsweek journalist Ellis Cose, explores the idea of hope in a dismal time for Black America in his new book, The End of Anger: A New Generation’s Take on Race and Rage.

“The African American community has been harder hit in this recession by the white community, than most other communities have.  Part of the reasons that we as a group seem surprisingly optimistic is that we’re taking a long-term view.  In the last ten or fifteen years what many African Americans have perceived is a fundamental change in the opportunity structure of society, in a sense that what was not possible at all for past generations of African Americans has suddenly become possible for at least some members of this generation and that’s a huge deal for people.  If you came up in this country twenty years ago, one thing that you knew if you knew nothing else, it was that a black person could not become president,” said Cose.

“I think despite the fact that we as African Americans are really catching hell in this current recession, a lot of folks are saying hey, something very fundamental has changed about what it means to be black in America, and that gives people a certain kind of hope.


*(Some of their analysis on mainstream voting is disputed by Nate Silver in this June 2011 New York Times article)


  1. Educated, Ready, Willing and able. No JOB. Pres Obama's adminstration stimulus package went to White construction companies and workers – infrastructure projects top the adminstration build America again. Blacks are not part of this jobs market. Minnesota Department of Transportation was awarded $600 hundred million for transportation projects paid for with stimulus money. Less than $400,000 of the $600 hundred million can be documented reaching the Black and Minority Community contractors. http://www.sb501c3.org/Resources/Documents/Spring

    The brothers and sisters in the suits – Pres Obama not awarding money for them!

    • You are exactly right. As a former owner of a construction business, a AFL-CIO shop, I was shocked to learn how few AA's are actually in the construction unions. AA ownership of businesses that work in that space is even more deplorable. AA's have been locked out of that space and the AFL-CIO has done nothing to help AAs. But AA political leadership supports the AFL-CIO. AAs efforts to start and maintain our own unions are zealously opposed by the AFL-CIO umbrella unions. AA leaders stand side by side with these majority unions as if they support the interest of AAs when few things could be further from the truth.

      One of AAs' most significant problems is that our political leadership frequently act in ways that are counter to AAs' economic interest.

  2. “The African American community has been harder hit in this recession by the white community…" Racism, and blaming other people for your problems is why the unemployment rate is so high.

  3. Black folks need to stop looking to others to solve their problems. We know that America was built on and still benefits from a master/slave relationship with blacks on a global basis. The slavemaster will always have the mentality of a slavemaster it's up to the slave to change. For African Americans that means casting off pretty much every ideology the slavemaster promotes to us, as well as his indentured (white) population.

    Forget education (obedience school is for animals) we need knowledge. Forget Christianity, it's a system of control forced on us by slavemasters. Forget individualism, strength is in numbers. Forget the "middle class work ethic", it's an ethic of greed and consumerism. Forget the two party system, it's irreparably broken. Forget homophilia, gay marriage won't repair the black family. I could go on and on.

    • false 1
      You're absolutly right.
      The white Americans keep getting blamed for the African American problems.
      I'm getting pretty tired of hearing it to.
      White Americans have done more for the black race then any other country or race in the history of the world…………. Period. That includes the Black Race to.
      Guess what…. I'm unemployed and have been for a couple of years now. I'm educated with 22 years of experince at what I do. I can't buy a job. I'm sure it's because I'm white. I mean one of my black neighbors has a job… so it must be because I'm white. My unemployment ran out over a year ago. I refuse to except or apply for any welfare. I scrape to get money for food while I watch my black neighbors bring home trunk loads of food that they paid for with a welfare credit card.
      The feel sorry for me because I'm black crap needs to stop! Go give the race card thing a try in another country and see how far you get.

  4. Dem pols use a few black leaders( jesse,al, charlie rangel) to bring in the votes and promise the world to black America. The scammer get rich and powerful and lead the black sheep to the economic slaughter. How long have blacks been voting mostly one party and getting nothing but false promises??

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  6. Half of the united states black or African American or what ever else we are called these days citizens should seriously thinl about becomming republican then our value will go up. As of now both republicans and democrats know how black are going to vote. Nither party even consider the black vote important, but if a lot of blacks threating to become republican then you will see a lot of changes in the black way of life when you see Obama he is always surrounded by white voters because he know he already have the black vote, and black end up with nothin everytime. If mitt Romnly thought he could get half the black votes, you would see black unemployment go down before the election