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September 28th, 2011
08:47 PM ET

Letters to the President: #982 'Unrest'

Reporter's Note: President Obama is facing growing criticism from black voters; which, unlike my letters, has not been a problem since he took office.

Dear Mr. President,

I feel better today. Surprising what a little sleep and chicken soup can do. Ok, I’ll admit that I had some fish and green beans, not chicken soup, but you get my point. Anyway, the cold is receding a bit and that is good news.

I spent most of today working on a story about you and African American voters, and I must say, you are in a bit of jam on that front, aren’t you? Complaints from the Congressional Black Caucus, a tough interview on BET, and that Washington Post/ABC News poll showing that enthusiasm for your presidency is falling pretty darn dramatically among black voters who, to be frank, have been by far your most steadfast fans through all of our nation’s troubles.

There is, of course, no real reason to believe that great droves of them will vote against you next fall, but the polls and some of the grumbling in Congress certainly suggest they may not be that eager to go vote for you either. It’s that “enthusiasm gap” we always hear so much about.

The dangerous equation is simple: In a few key states, a few thousand disgruntled black voters decide that you have let them down enough to stay home. That gives those states to your opponent. Those states give him (or her) an electoral edge. And Bob’s Your Uncle, you’re packing up your desk. Yeah, it’s ugly.

But the converse doesn’t look much better: You go out of your way to convince those voters that you indeed have their best interests at heart, a few thousand Independents see it as pandering. They stay home…and you get the picture. Different approach; same bad landing.

I know that you look to me for advice, but I’m not really sure how you should split the different on this one. No matter which group you try to reassure, you risk irritating the other. Probably the only solution is the one you say you are working on: Getting the economy rolling again and unemployment down so that everyone benefits. But so far that is not going so well.

Anyway, good luck with it all. More tomorrow.

Regards,

Tom

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