Saturday, February 9, 2008

African American voters in California buck voter turnout trend

Cross-posted from Echolandia.
Published on: February 8, 2008
Published by: karlos schmieder

Likely and eligible African American Democrat voters made up 9% of Super Tuesday's California primary, according to Survey USA. documented an increase in young, Latino and African American turnout across 5 important primary states (Arizona, California, Georgia, Missouri, and Tennessee), and say young and people of color voted in record numbers in all Super Tuesday states.

Yet African Americans underperformed compared to their percentage of the voting eligible population in California, making up just 7% of the state’s Democratic voters, according to exit polls.

So what happened in California that African American’s bucked the trend of people of color outperforming their percentage of eligible voters in this year’s exciting Presidential election?

I think I have an answer, for the Bay Area at least.

Last October, Center for Media Justice (when we were still Youth Media Council) published Displacing the Dream - a study on Bay Area media coverage of housing and development in the region.

One finding that came out of it was that very little coverage focused on displacement patterns, particularly of African Americans. (Go here for blog posts, and see the insightful prologue at SF Bayview.)

As of 2006, Oakland and San Francisco had each lost 20-25% of their African American populations. Since then, this trend has only accelerated.
From the Displacing the Dream prologue: As more and more city space sells out to the highest bidder, longstanding communities - usually African-American, Latino and Asian - which hold rich social, economic and cultural networks, are displaced and, thus, destroyed. And with that destruction, there is tremendous cost.

One of those costs, particularly in the Bay Area, is the resulting loss of electoral, organizing and mobilization power for the region’s African American population.

Does predatory corporate development disenfranchise communities? A body of evidence is beginning to suggest it does.

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