One of the things giving Democratic candidates across the country trouble this year that has perhaps not gotten as much attention as it should is that they are really under polling with black voters. It’s a given that black turnout is going to be way down from its 2008 levels this year but more troublesome for Democratic candidates is that they are running well behind Barack Obama’s approval numbers with African Americans in almost every key race we’ve polled over the last six weeks.
There’s a couple ways to look at that. One is that polling frequently underestimates Democratic performance with black voters further out from an election and that 90% of them will vote Democratic as they usually do. If that’s the case polls right now are underestimating the party’s candidates across the board and Democrats won’t do as poorly in November as the current conventional wisdom. The other way to look at it is that black voters, like other voters, are less enthused with the Democrats than they are in the average election cycle and will indeed support them at a lower rate than usual.