Black voters made the difference in 2006 election (12-03-2006)

WASHINGTON ( – Black women voters are getting attention like never before. Is it because they’re Black and a Black man’s running or is it because they’re female and a woman’s running? Or is it simply a case of numbers?

“Unmarried women are the fastest growing, large demographic and African American women are eighteen percent of all single women in our country,” said Page Gardner, president of Women’s Voices Women Vote, which recently released a survey about Black female voters.


“African American women have an agenda and they will take that agenda into the voting booth,” said Ms. Gardner. Her group’s research notes unmarried Black women are highly motivated to vote, and economic issues dominate their agenda.

“African American unmarried women struggle to make ends meet and they will listen to candidates who have something to say about their lives and their hopes for the future,” said Ms. Gardner.

“All of the primaries and caucuses so far have seen high numbers of unmarried women coming to the polls. African Americans vote more than any other group of unmarried women and will be a vital bloc of voters in upcoming race on Feb. 5.”

The contest for the Democratic presidential nomination between Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill). a Black man, and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), a woman, has helped put Black women in the spotlight.

“We have issues and concerns that pertain to our quality of life.The impact of the economy is important.We want a livable wage not a minimum wage.We want a wage that we can raise our families on.Health disparities are another major issue.Black women are dying from HIV and that impacts single and married women,” said Melanie Campbell, executive director of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, told The Final Call.

Those issues are different from White women who tend to have more education and higher incomes than Black women.

Black women will also have an increased impact because of the numbers of Black men who are ineligible to vote, according to Ms. Campbell. In 35 states, close to four million convicted felons are not allowed to vote.Black men make up a significant part of that number. “Black women will be 58 percent of the Black vote in 2008,” Ms. Campbell said.

Unmarried women are also proving to be the pivotal voters. Exit surveys show a 32-point difference between Iowa and New Hampshire among unmarried women, one of the highest swings of any major demographic subgroups.

In Iowa, Senator Barack Obama captured the single women’s vote by 13 points (40 percent for Sen. Obama to 27 percent for Sen. Hillary Clinton), while in New Hampshire, Mrs. Clinton won single women by 19 points (51 percent for Mrs. Clinton to 32 percent for Mr. Obama).

Unmarried women were 12 percent of the Republican electorate, and were half of John McCain’s margin of victory in New Hampshire. Marital status has not been asked in all of the primaries and caucuses.

“Our research shows us, and the first races have confirmed, unmarried women are extremely motivated to participate in the 2008 elections, and make their voices heard in the 2008 races,” said Ms. Gardner. The study was released Jan. 23.

Ms. Campbell agrees that Black women have a newfound power.

“When you talk about the Black vote, you better talk about how you’re going to get the Black women’s vote.We want to know where are you on my issues and will things be different when you get in office?” she said.