Skip to 3:50 below for the key bit. Good lord. He’s about as far off-script from the usual Democratic message as you can get.
After all the Democrats' concern about voter suppression, this is an interesting response from Obama to Al Sharpton in a new interview pic.twitter.com/9qrJ3riT6a
— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) November 4, 2016
I assume the left will walk this back after the election by claiming that O deliberately underplayed the impact of voter-ID laws and fewer early-voting hours in order to boost morale among minority voters. If he had complained loudly here about “voter suppression,” it might have backfired by inadvertently convincing black viewers that they shouldn’t bother showing up to vote on Election Day. So he went the other way: Anyone who doesn’t vote, he insists, is doing it because they couldn’t be bothered, not because someone stopped them. In fact, although black turnout was slow nationally in early voting last week, worrying Democrats, it’s bounced back over the last several days. In Florida there were actually more black early voters this year than there were in 2012, consistent with turnout exploding across demographics in that state. The same is true in Georgia and Louisiana:
Something went very wrong for African-Americans' voting in North Carolina pic.twitter.com/ZpwjyEavmd
— Michael McDonald (@ElectProject) November 6, 2016
North Carolina is the exception, which is why the left has been screaming all week about Republican efforts there to reduce early-voting hours. Read this fact check by Mary Katharine Ham, though, noting that there are actually more cumulative hours available in districts with large black populations this year than in 2012. I think black North Carolinians are the audience Obama’s speaking to most directly in the clip, in fact, given how important the state is and how tight the margin’s apt to be. The fact that the new early-voting hours may have been less convenient this cycle isn’t an excuse not to vote, he’s suggesting.
As for Latino early turnout, the media’s spent the last week marveling over it. The “Hispanics beat Trump” pieces are already in the can, I assume, and are ready to be rolled out at midnight tomorrow night once final numbers are available, assuming Clinton does in fact win the election. Here’s a sample from Miami-Dade County:
There are 1.5 million registered voters in Miami-Dade county (56 percent of whom are Hispanic), including nearly 30,000 added during a last-minute voter-registration drive in October, after Democratic Party officials went to court to extend the deadline in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Through Saturday, according to Smith, 707,844 county residents had already voted: 44 percent were Democrats, 30 percent Republican, and 25 percent had “no party affiliation,” a group that tends to skew younger and Hispanic, and thus toward Clinton. The demographic mix of early voters also looks highly favorable to Clinton: 58 percent Hispanic, 17 percent African-American and 20 percent white.
But the late registrants, Smith says, give the clearest indication that sentiment in Miami-Dade is running strongly against Trump. Of the 29,657 voters who registered last month, 41 percent are Democrats, 44 percent are unaffiliated, and only 12.5 percent are Republicans. “That’s nuts,” said Smith. “These are the barometers that indicate the hostility toward the GOP candidate.”
Statewide in Florida, Latino turnout is up nearly 75 percent(!) over 2012, and more than a third are people who didn’t vote four years ago. And it’s not just Florida. If you believe Jon Ralston, Latinos may have already sealed Nevada for Clinton, a blow to Trump’s path to 270. At a Trump rally over the weekend, the head of the state Republican Party complained that polls had been kept open late Friday (for people who were already in line) so that “a certain group” could vote. Like Obama says: If you really want to, you can. They really wanted to.