Gallup reports that President Obama’s approval rating among blacks has fallen to an all-time low of 85 percent. His rating fell five points in the last month alone.
Although on an absolute basis Obama’s approval among blacks remains high, this number should be worrisome for the Obama 2012 presidential campaign. Approximately 2.9 million more blacks voted in 2008 than in 2004. Obama received 96 percent of that vote. Obama is likely to receive a stratospheric percentage of the black vote in 2012, but the new Gallup numbers suggest that black voter enthusiasm — and thus turnout – will be lower in 2012 than in 2008. (By the way, Obama’s approval among Hispanics has plummeted as well.)
The declining numbers could help swing pivotal states away from Obama in the next election. For example, Ohio had a 13 percent increase in black voter turnout in 2008 over 2004, a net of 66,000 more votes (conversely, Ohio’s white voters were remarkably unenthusiastic in 2008, resulting in 540,000 fewer white voters going to the polls). The increase in black voter turnout alone accounted for nearly a third of the differential between the Ohio vote totals of Obama and McCain.
The problem for the Obama campaign is that the 2012 election will not generate the enthusiasm associated with the possibility of electing the first black president.