Democrats in Congress merit far lower approval ratings among nonwhites than does the president, with 49 percent approving of congressional Democrats and 74 percent approving of Obama.
William Galston, a former policy adviser to President Bill Clinton, says that in previous elections where an enduring majority of voters came to support one party, the president winning re-election — William McKinley in 1900, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936 and Ronald Reagan in 1984 — attracted a larger turnout over his original election and also received a higher vote total and a higher share of the popular vote. None of those occurred for Obama in 2012.
Only once in the last 60 years has a political party been successful in holding the presidency more than eight years — Republicans from 1980-1992.
“This doesn’t prove that Obama’s presidency won’t turn out to be the harbinger of a new political order,” Galston says. “But it does warrant some analytical caution.”
Early polling suggests that Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton could come close in 2016 to generating the level of support among nonwhites as Obama did in November, when he won 80 percent of their vote. In a Fox News poll in February, 75 percent of nonwhites said they thought Clinton would make a good president, outpacing the 58 percent who said that about Vice President Joe Biden.
Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the NAACP, predicts closely fought elections in the near term and worries that GOP-controlled state legislatures will step up efforts to pass voter ID and other restrictions to deter blacks and other minorities from voting. In 2012, African-Americans were able to turn out in large numbers only after a very determined get-out-the-vote effort by the Obama campaign and black groups, he said.
Jealous says the 2014 midterm election will be the real bellwether for black turnout. “Black turnout set records this year despite record attempts to suppress the black vote,” he said.