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Ohio African Americans Cast Important Votes in Presidential Election

Ohio African Americans Cast Important Votes in Presidential ElectionDid African American voters help tip Ohio to President Bush’s column in the 2004 election?  A respected analyst thinks so.

Bush captured 16 percent of the African American vote in that swing state this year, up from just 9 percent in 2000, says Dr. David Bositis, senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a nonprofit that studies African American voting trends. One reason may be the Ohio ballot initiative against gay marriage, which brought more voters to the polls.

“I’d attribute it to the gay marriage initiative,” Bositis told Black Issues. In October, a national poll by the center found African Americans more likely than Whites to oppose gay marriage and civil unions. In Ohio, he said, early indications show that about 60 percent of African American voters voted for the anti-gay marriage initiative. “African Americans were more likely to be against gay marriage than Whites,” he says.

Ohio already was a battleground for campaign attorneys due to long lines at the polls, which prompted many precincts to use “provisional ballots” to help speed up the voting process. Counting those ballots is expected to take weeks.

Had Bush received just 9 percent of Ohio’s African American vote, as he did in 2000, about 36,000 to 55,000 votes cast for the president would have moved over to Sen. John Kerry’s column. While that would not have been enough to give the state to Kerry, it might have given the Democrat’s campaign more leverage to contest the result.

“Kerry almost certainly would (have) waited to count the provisional ballots instead of conceding,” Bositis says.

Nonetheless, African American voters nationally provided their customary strong support for the Democratic presidential nominee, particularly compared with White voters. Kerry received 88 percent of the African American vote nationwide, Bositis says. Bush’s 11 percent was up from 2000, when he garnered 8 percent of the vote.

African American voter turnout also was up, increasing to 13.2 million this year, Bositis says. In 2000, there were about 10.5 million African Americans at the polls.

By Charles Dervarics

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