Christopher Cooper and Susan Davis shed more light on the Obama campaign’s efforts to maximize African American voter registration in their excellent Wall St. Journal article on the topic. A couple of nut graphs:
For Sen. Obama, the registration initiative is at the fore, especially since the main reason for low black turnout is low registration. The U.S. Census Bureau says that while registered black voters turn out at a rate generally even with white counterparts, qualified African-Americans register at a lower rate nationally — 68% to 75% for whites. The gap is particularly stark in the battleground state of Florida, where only 53% of eligible blacks were registered in 2004, compared with 71% of whites. In Virginia, it was 58% to 72%.
If Sen. Obama can achieve registration parity, the effect could be significant, since African-Americans traditionally vote Democratic about 90% of the time. Nationally, black turnout at white levels would have meant an additional 1.6 million voters in 2004, narrowing the three million-vote gap separating President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry. In states and districts with a heavy concentration of black citizens, the gap could have thrown victory to Democrats, including North Carolina, long a Republican stronghold, and currently considered a virtual toss-up by many analysts.
Naturally, the Republicans are already hard at work trying to suppress the Black vote:
If history is a guide, Republican campaigners will likely mount legal challenges to Sen. Obama’s voter-registration efforts. Although Democrats aren’t shy to litigate, it is Republicans who have generally opposed efforts to make registration procedures easier and have made such legal challenges, along with voter purges, a part of their election-year strategy, especially in close states. They did this in Florida and Ohio in 2000 and 2004 — unfairly, many Democrats charge. Louisiana’s Republican secretary of state has begun investigating the recent registration efforts of a Democratic-backed organization following reports that many applicants were either dead or fictional.
Republican leaders frequently take shots at Dems for being insufficiently patriotic. Yet racially-driven voter suppression remains an enduring cornerstone of their electoral strategy. Shameless.