Written for theGrio.com
African-Americans made up 12.1 percent of the 131 million people who voted in the 2008 presidential election. The turnout rate for black eligible voters increased 4.9 percentage points from 2004, with a total of two million first-time black voters. In '08, 98 percent of black voters cast their ballots for Barack Obama.
Undoubtedly, the chance to make history was a big part of black Americans' unprecedented rush to the polls in 2008, and it proved critical to Obama's election. For example, in North Carolina, a state rich in electoral votes that Obama was not expected to win, his campaign produced 300,000 new black voters. He won the state by fewer than 14,000 votes. With the 2012 campaign already under way, Obama's campaign team, Obama for America, is looking to match or exceed 2008's black voter turnout. They plan to do it with a simple message and novel outreach.
The Obama campaign's message to black voters is rooted in his administration's accomplishments. "The African-American community recognizes that from day one, President Obama has been fighting for policies that give everyone in this country a fair shot and the opportunity to succeed," said one campaign aide. "That's why he passed a payroll tax, which put more money back into the pocket of 18.5 million African-American workers and why he pushed for job training, education and health care reform." His 2010 executive order for $850 million in additional HBCU funding and expanded health care coverage of black Americans through the Affordable Care Act are other accomplishments of which Obama For America plans to remind black voters.
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