African American voters endorse Obama in surveys, but some of the fervor that sent many to the polls in 2008 is lacking.
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Four years ago, there were doubts, then hope, then worry, work and elation. Today, as African American voters look at electing the first black president to a second term, there is support tinged with disappointment and defensiveness.
There are worries about President Obama's support for gay marriage, worries about the economy and worries about life under a Mitt Romney administration. There are fewer thoughts about making historic strides and quieter worries about history slipping away.
"Some people may see it as subdued, but I think the difference is there's more of a serious tone to it," Matrice Brown Johnson, a 53-year-old Obama supporter from Richmond, said of African American backing for the president. "People are taking it more seriously."
On the surface, Obama's support among blacks appears solid. In a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 92% of registered African American voters surveyed said they backed Obama, and 5% supported Republican nominee Mitt Romney. No other constituency offers the president such consistent and solid support in polls.
But the shift in mood and energy from four years ago could have an effect in an election expected to be decided by thin margins.
With the Obama campaign desperately trying to turn support into votes, even subtle shifts may change the result. In important battlegrounds Obama won four years ago -- Ohio, Virginia, Nevada and Florida -- the campaign is preparing to lean more heavily on support from African Americans as it braces to lose white voters.
In Virginia, where Obama won an estimated 100,000 more votes from African Americans than Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry did four years earlier, that means winning close to the 93% of black voters he won last time, as well as a turnout that rivals or exceeds what amounted to a tide of new political engagement in the state.
Those new African American voters amounted to about half of Obama's margin of victory over Sen. John McCain in Virginia in 2008.
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SOURCE: The LA Times