- (Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria)
There are indications that voter turnout from youth and black voters, especially black voters in historically Democrat-dominated Philadelphia, could be problematic for the Obama reelection campaign. Political experts are asserting that Obama's strategy, which depends on voter turnout from core supporting constituencies just as George Bush did in 2004, may be weaker than expected.
In 2008, the black and youth vote – responding to President Obama's message of hope and change – went to the polls in numbers not seen in previous elections. But now leaders of both groups are concerned voters in these two important groups may not respond in the numbers needed to give the president a second term.
One issue implemented by a number of states over the past two years may prove to be a factor that could influence turnout and thus results in some key states.
Democrats are concerned about a new voter ID law in Pennsylvania that may make it harder for hundreds of thousands of black urban voters in Philadelphia to vote. Estimates are that nearly 500,000 Pennsylvania voters would need to get IDs under the new law, and there is debate over how many of these voters are black urban supporters of the president. Obama won Pennsylvania in 2008 by 620,000 votes.
Even in states where state governments are mandated to issue government photo ID's at no charge, campaign strategists are trying to figure out what percentage of affected voters will make the effort to obtain the card.
But voter ID aside, the question many are asking is can Obama motivate and mobilize a youth vote that four years later finds many unemployed and with a mountain of student debt. On a similar note, unemployment among blacks exceeds 14 percent. Additionally, key black pastors are asking voters to consider their options since the president came out in support of same-sex marriage.
In 2008, then Sen. Barack Obama won approximately 95 percent of the black vote with blacks producing a national turnout rate at 64.7 percent.
But according to officials at the National Urban League, one of the country's oldest civil rights groups, black turnout below 60 percent could spell trouble for Obama in states such as Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina – all must-win states.
"We achieved a high-water mark in America in 2008. For the first time, African Americans were at the table with white America because the turnout of black voters was just 1.4 points below white voters," Chanelle Hardy, senior vice president and executive director of the National Urban League Policy Institute, told CBS. "But because we achieved so much in 2008, we have to push even harder to meet those numbers."
Speaking to the NAACP convention in Houston last week, presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney told attendees that he is the candidate most qualified to help blacks get back on sound economic footing.
As for the youth vote, a Pew Research poll in June reported that only about 60 percent of young voters nationally are giving considerable thought to the election, down from 71 percent four years ago.
One example comes from Pittsburg accountant Terri Bostard who says she is having trouble deciding who to support in November.
"I don't think that Romney is necessarily in touch with the middle class, but on the other hand when you look at what's occurred in the past four years, I don't think we've seen any progress either," Bostard told CBS News.