Early voting numbers are already showing a tidal wave of black voters that could push Barack Obama over the top in many key states:
According to Michael McDonald’s terrific website, there are three states in which early voting has already exceeded its totals from 2004. These are Georgia, where early voting is already at 180 percent of its 2004 total, Louisiana (169 percent), and North Carolina (129 percent).
Hmm … can anybody think of something that those three states have in common?
The African-American population share is the key determinant of early voting behavior. In states where there are a lot of black voters, early voting is way, way up. In states with fewer African-Americans, the rates of early voting are relatively normal.
This works at the county level too. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Cleveland), which about 30 percent black, twice as many people have already voted early as in all of 2004. In Franklin County (Columbus), which is about 18 percent black and also has tons of students, early voting is already about 3x its 2004 total.
Two remarkable videos and one moving news story from black Americans on opposite ends of the age spectrum underscore the enthusiasm on the ground. The first is Charles, an elderly widower who spends his time volunteering for the Obama campaign in Nevada. Listen to the emotion in his voice as he talks about the young people he works with:
The second video is of a group of incredibly well-spoken kids from the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, performing a non-partisan version of rapper TI’s “Whatever You Like” called “You Can Vote However You Like.” The lyrics of the original song have been creatively replaced with policy and punditry. Make sure you watch the interview through the end to catch the performance:
And finally, the story that knocked me out of my chair. Amanda Jones, a 109-year-old woman from Bastrop County, Texas, and the daughter of a slave, votes for Barack Obama. Can you imagine what her father– a man born into slavery– would have thought if you had told him his daughter, in her lifetime, would be able to cast a ballot for potentially the first black president? Stunning:
Amanda Jones, a delicate, thin woman wearing golden-rimmed glasses, giggled as the family discussed this year’s presidential election. She is too weak to go the polls, so two of her 10 children — Eloise Baker, 75, and Joyce Jones — helped her fill out a mail-in ballot for Barack Obama, Baker said. “I feel good about voting for him,” Amanda Jones said.
Jones’ father herded sheep as a slave until he was 12, according to the family, and once he was freed, he was a farmer who raised cows, hogs and turkeys on land he owned. Her mother was born right after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Joyce Jones said.