There’s a small crack in Barack Obama’s core constituency: not all black Americans are sure of voting for him in 2012. This could hurt him badly in swing states like North Carolina and Virginia; North Carolina has the largest percentage of black voters of any of the swing states.
But some socially conservative black ministers in North Carolina are having second thoughts about endorsing Obama, who endorsed same-sex marriage. North Carolina passed a referendum against gay marriages and civil unions in May.
The Rev. John H. Grant, 58, a black Baptist pastor in Asheville, N.C., said, “When I voted for Obama in the previous election, I did think he was closer to my values. I’m pretty much undecided right now.”
In 2008, Obama got 95% of the national black vote; in North Carolina, virtually every black woman who voted went for Obama; 87 % of black men also did. Despite a New York Times/CBS News Poll conducted in September showing 94% of likely black voters supported Mr. Obama, the Obama campaign is worried. Cameron French, press secretary for the Obama campaign in North Carolina, admitted, “When you look at a state that is as close as this was, you can’t take any group for granted. We are making a concentrated effort to turn out 100 percent of the base.”
Obama only won North Carolina in 2008 by 14,000 votes, which triggered the Obama Administration to hold the DNC in Charlotte. The Obama campaign has some plans to make sure the black turnout for him is high; the “Barber and Beauty Program,” which enlists specific salon owners and barbers to get involved and help turn out the vote, and the “Congregation Captains” program, which tells volunteers from black religious groups to go after other members.
The Romney campaign is not conceding the black vote in North Carolina, starting a Black Leadership Council in February to research which issues resonated the most with black voters. The Romney campaign says on its website: “President Obama simply did not get the job done — and he has particularly underserved the black community, which is suffering the most in this upside down economy.”
Yet some blacks want to value the color of the candidate’s skin more than their religious principles; the Rev. Evelyn Paulette Toliver, the minister of a black Pentecostal church in Raleigh, said, “I’d love it if, as a Christian, Mr. Obama would do everything we want him to. But I’ve realized, thinking about it deeply, that he’s not just the president of Christians. He’s got to be the president of everybody.”
The question is, will black Christians hold fast to their religious principles and be truly color-blind, or will they vote for a candidate who consistently violates Christian dogma? If they vote their religious consciences, that crack in the campaign of the secularist president may become a gaping hole.