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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 11:10 AM ET, 07/28/2008

Delving Deeper on Black Turnout

A little over a week ago, Behind The Numbers took a look at Obama's ability to turn red states blue simply by boosting black turnout over 2004 levels, and found that if all else remained the same, few states would flip without monumental increases.

Even assuming 95 percent of African Americans would vote for Obama (in line with the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll and above the 88 percent who voted for John Kerry) as we did here reduces the challenge only minimally. And regardless, Obama faces a challenge in registering additional black voters, let alone getting them to the polls.

The analysis used for today's article examined the turnout increase necessary among African Americans in states that went for George W. Bush in 2004, where blacks made up 5 percent or more of voters in 2004 (based on National Election Pool exit polls), and where the total black turnout required to win would not be greater than the Census's 2006 estimate of the black voting age population (in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas, the increase would have exceeded the total black population). The analysis held constant the number and distribution of votes among non-African Americans.

Looking again at Georgia (the primary example in the previous post): To overcome the 548,105 vote margin Bush held in the state in 2004, about 790,000 additional black voters would have to turnout if the proportions held the same as in 2004 (about 96 percent of the more than 825,000 African Americans who voted in 2004). Should Obama win 95 percent of black voters, about 528,000 more black voters would have to cast ballots (an increase of 64 percent).

The table below shows the boost in turnout required in both scenarios: Obama winning the same proportion of black voters as did Kerry in 2004, and Obama winning 95 percent of black voters. In both cases, victory is within closer reach in states that were swing states already (Ohio, Florida and Nevada).

Turnout increase among blacks needed to win if Obama wins...
           Kerry's share       95 percent
          of black voters   of black voters
Ohio            20%                0%
Nevada          28%                8%
Florida         56%               23%
Virginia        58%               30%
N.C.            73%               36%
S.C.            81%               41%
Louisiana       64%               48%
Mississippi     70%               51%
Georgia         96%               64%
Arkansas*       65%               65%
Missouri        88%               67%
Tennessee      142%              116%

*Kerry won 94 percent of black voters in Arkansas in 2004.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  11:10 AM ET, 07/28/2008

Categories:  Exit polls

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