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The black vote is still President Obama’s trump card

Earl Ofari Hutchinson | 12/20/2011, 10:42 a.m.

Obama has done two things to keep the enthusiasm level high. In November, he held a black leadership conference and unveiled what is as close yet to a white paper the White House has issued on race. It ticked off a checklist of initiatives from health care, job stimulus and small business aid that have benefited blacks.

The position paper was an obvious counter to the shouts from some black activists, and on occasion the Congressional Black Caucus, that he hasn’t said or done enough about the chronic high unemployment, failing public schools, high incarceration rates, and worries about home foreclosures and poverty crisis facing black communities.

Obama strategists recognize that the novelty of his history-making election has worn off with many blacks. This realization and in some cases, frustration and impatience, set in among many blacks, caused far more second guessing about Obama’s priorities then the White House found comfortable.

The backstabbing, infighting and clownish antics of the pack of GOP presidential contenders and the constant hectoring of them as weak and ineffectual at this stage of the election game should not be cause for the Democrats to uncork the champagne and declare the 2012 election a cakewalk for Obama.

Despite fielding arguably one of the weakest GOP presidential tickets in recent history in 2008, the GOP contenders still got the bulk of the white vote. There’s no guarantee that this can’t happen again. The GOP will rally its fractious base when the election chips are down. The black vote is still Obama’s trump card, but only if the numbers are there.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.