African Americans' strong dislike of incumbent President George W. Bush is one important factor in their vote choice. But so is the memory of the disputed Florida 2000 election and that controversy is also a cause of deep suspicion. Most African American voters say President Bush did not win the 2000 election legitimately, and for some, the events of 2000 have given them additional motivation to turn out this year. At the same time many black voters worry that there will be deliberate efforts to discount their votes this November.
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE 2004 ELECTION
Not surprisingly, Democrat John Kerry leads President George W. Bush by a margin of about 8 to 1 among African American voters in a heads-up matchup. African Americans have historically supported Democratic candidates by large margins; in 2000, 90% of black voters cast their ballot for Al Gore, and 9% voted for George W. Bush. Fewer than one in ten don't yet know who they will support. Voters as a whole give the ticket of Kerry and Senator John Edwards a five-point edge over the Bush-Cheney ticket in the most recent CBS News/New York Times poll of July 11-15.
KERRY VS. BUSH: CHOICE IN NOVEMBER
*Comparison is to Kerry/Edwards ticket vs. Bush/Cheney ticket
Unlike voters as a whole, black voters are nearly united in their support for Kerry. There are only minor differences among various age, education, and income levels, by gender, or by region of the country.
Three quarters of black voters identify themselves as Democrats. A few say they are Republicans, and 21% are Independents. Voters nationally are more closely divided between Democrats and Republicans. 38% say they are Democrats today, 31% Republicans, and 31% Independent in the latest CBS News/New York Times Poll. Black voters who are Independents are firmly in Kerry's camp; 59% support Kerry, and 18% support Bush (Independents are a swing group among all voters).
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE 2004 VOTE
African American voters say they are more engaged in this election than they were at this time in 2000. 37% report they are paying a lot of attention to the campaign, and another 40% are paying some attention. At this point in the 2000 campaign, just 16% of African American voters were paying a lot of attention.
In addition, more voters are likely now than in 2000 to say they will definitely vote in November. 83% of African American voters say they will definitely vote; in 2000, 71% said the same. What potential voters say they will do in July may not reflect what actually happens in November.
The events of 2000 are clearly a motivating factor. The final 2000 results are still being questioned by almost all African American voters: 85% say that George W. Bush did not legitimately win the Presidency in 2000. This belief is far more widespread than among whites: asked in March of this year, 32% of whites say that Bush did not win legitimately.
DID BUSH LEGITIMATELY WIN IN 2000?
Half of black voters say they are more likely to turn out this year because of the controversial events in Florida in 2000. Many black voters claimed they were denied the vote in Florida then; but now, hardly any black voters say that would dissuade them from voting in 2004.
Yet while they may be eager to get back to the polls in 2004, some black voters are suspicious about what may happen there. Less than half – 41% - have a lot of confidence that their votes will be counted properly in November. 39% have some confidence, while 17% have little confidence.
HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE THAT YOUR VOTE WILL BE COUNTED IN 2004?
The mistrust that lingers coincides with a widespread belief that people do make deliberate attempts to either thwart African American attempts to vote, or to miscount the ballots once cast. Fully two-thirds of African Americans believe such malicious attempts are made against African Americans.
ARE THERE DELIBERATE ATTEMPTS TO DISRUPT AFRICAN AMERICAN VOTING?
In addition, four in ten black voters feel that they are less likely than white voters to have their votes correctly tabulated, nearly as many as think their votes are as likely to be correctly counted.
COMPARED TO WHITES, BLACKS IN 2004 WILL BE…
Less likely to have votes counted
Just as likely to have votes counted
VIEWS OF THE CANDIDATES
Despite their overwhelming support for him, African American voters don't yet feel much excitement about John Kerry. Although 27% say they are "enthusiastic" about Kerry's candidacy, more than twice as many, 58%, say they are merely "satisfied."
FEEL ABOUT KERRY'S CANDIDACY:
While they might not be energized by him, these voters do have positive views of the Democratic candidate. Majorities think Kerry has the same priorities for the country as they do, is likely to tell them the truth, and is highly intelligent.
There is some optimism about a Kerry Administration's impact on the lives of African Americans, though just as many are likely to expect not much to change if he is elected. Just under half think opportunities for blacks will improve if Kerry is elected president. About as many think there won't be any difference. Hardly any, however, think things will get worse.
Blacks also think Kerry would appoint more African Americans to cabinet positions than Bush – despite Bush's very visible appointments of African Americans to his Cabinet.
Black voters may simply have an easier time relating to John Kerry than to George W. Bush. When asked to choose between the two candidates, by a large margin black voters even think John Kerry has more soul than George W. Bush.
WHO HAS MORE SOUL?
George W. Bush
African Americans want to hear both Bush and Kerry talk about the economy, jobs and healthcare this year. 29% volunteer the economy or jobs as the top issue they want the candidates to discuss, and another 11% name health care. 21% cite the war in Iraq. And although many African Americans live in urban areas that may be more vulnerable to terror attacks, only 2% name terrorism as the main issue.
However, many black voters do not feel either candidate is addressing these issues. 46% of those who named an issue think neither Kerry nor Bush is talking about it.
From a low job approval rating to expressions of frustration and even anger with the Administration, President George W. Bush receives very little support from African American voters in this poll.
His job approval rating from this group is extremely low; just 11% approve, and 85% disapprove.
BUSH'S JOB APPROVAL RATING
Nearly half of black voters are dissatisfied with the administration, and over a third say they are angry.
FEEL ABOUT BUSH'S ADMINISTRATION:
George W. Bush has never been popular with black voters. Few approved of the job he was doing in the months immediately after he took office. His job approval rating rose among blacks just after the September 11th terrorist attacks, as it did among all Americans, but since then it has steadily declined.
George W. Bush is not the only Republican president to be so disliked by African American voters. In the summer of 1992, only one in five black voters approved of the job President George H. W. Bush was doing. In 1988 and 1984, President Ronald Reagan's job approval ratings were similarly low. Still, the current president's job approval ratings are even lower than either his father's or Reagan's.
Most black voters think Bush does not share their priorities for the country, and is not likely to tell them the truth. They say he is of average, not high, intelligence.
THE POLITICAL PARTIES
The vast majority of African Americans consider themselves Democrats. Most say the Democratic party generally tries to reach out to them, although about one third - 35% - of African American voters feel that the Democratic party takes them for granted. Most African American voters who consider themselves Independents believe that the black vote is taken for granted by the Democrats, suggesting why they might not declare allegiance to that party.
DOES THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY…?
Reach out to black voters
Take black voters for granted
Reach out to black voters
Take black voters for granted
Only a handful of African Americans identify themselves as Republicans, and most black voters believe that the GOP generally does not try very much to change that. 64% say the Republican party ignores the black vote instead of reaching out to try to gain some of it; one-third says the GOP does make efforts.
DOES THE REPUBLICAN PARTY…?
Ignore black voters
Reach out to black voters
There is little expectation that either party will place an African American atop its Presidential ticket any time soon. Most – 53% - do not believe that a black candidate will win the Democratic party's Presidential nomination within the next ten years. This is a very different outlook from twenty years ago: in the summer of 1984, as the Reverend Jesse Jackson made his first run at the Democratic Party's Presidential nod, 72% of black voters - and 77% of all voters - believed that an African American would secure a Democratic party nomination within thirty years (in essence, by the 2012 election.)
Despite the fact that the GOP boasts nationally prominent figures such as Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice within its ranks, few African American voters foresee any African American candidate winning the Republican nomination within ten years; just 18% think that will happen.
LEADERSHIP AND THE NATION'S DIRECTION
Twenty years after his first bid for the presidency, the Reverend Jesse Jackson remains atop the list of important national leaders of the African American community. Jackson's name was volunteered by 21% of black voters asked to name the most important national African American leader, ahead of Secretary of State Colin Powell at 13%. Jackson was first among both older and younger respondents. The Reverend Al Sharpton, who recently ran for the Democratic nomination, was far behind at 4%. Condoleezza Rice was the only woman mentioned by more than 1%. But almost half of all voters could not name anyone.
MOST IMPORTANT NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN LEADER?
Don't know/No one
A majority of registered voters nationwide think things in this country are off on the wrong track, and African American voters are even more pessimistic. Nearly all - 92%- of African American voters say things in this country have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track; just 6% say things are headed in the right direction.
DIRECTION OF COUNTRY
THE IMPORTANT ISSUES: THE ECONOMY AND IRAQ
African American voters, like many Americans, are concerned about the economy and jobs in this election campaign. They also do not think the war in Iraq was worth the costs.
The economy and jobs appear to be the critical issue for many African American voters. 46% say this issue will be the most important in getting them to vote in November. Jobs and the economy are followed by education with 19%, the war in Iraq with 14%, and health care with 14%.
WHICH ISSUE WOULD BE MOST IMPORTANT IN GETTING YOU TO
VOTE IN NOVEMBER?
Jobs and the economy
War in Iraq
Job security -- or at least the perception of it -- is lower among African American voters than among voters as a whole. 50% of African-American voters are very concerned that they or someone in their household may be out of work in the next 12 months, compared to 31% of all voters. An additional 23% are somewhat concerned about losing their job.
As for which would be a better remedy for providing more jobs to African Americans, 57% of black voters choose more government programs that provide job training and employment, while 36% choose giving tax incentives or tax breaks to encourage businesses to hire workers.
The War in Iraq
African American voters clearly do not think the war in Iraq was worth the loss of life and other costs. Nine in 10 do not think the war in Iraq was worth it; just 8% say it was.
While a majority of voters overall think that the Iraq war was not worth the costs, that feeling is less pervasive than it is among African Americans. 59% of voters overall in a July CBS News/New York Times Poll said the war was not worth the costs.
WAS IRAQ WAR WORTH COSTS?
African American voters who have family members in the military are
no more supportive of the Iraq war. 86% of black voters in military households say the war was not worth it.
African Americans have strong ties to the military. In this poll, 36% of African American voters are military family members - that is, either they themselves or an immediate family member is currently serving in the U.S. military. This number is higher among African Americans than it is among voters overall. In a CBS News/New York Times Poll conducted in July, 21% of voters nationwide said they were a military family member.
African American voters, like voters nationwide, are overwhelmingly opposed to reinstating the military draft to provide soldiers for the Iraq conflict. 82% oppose the draft. Among Americans overall, 70% are opposed to it.
While African American voters may not necessarily support America's involvement in Iraq, a large majority say the U.S. should intervene when crises occur in Africa. 67% say the U.S. should intervene, 20% say it should not, and 7% say it depends on the situation.
SOCIAL ISSUES: SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, EDUCATION AND CRIME
African American voters are both more conservative and more liberal than voters overall on domestic and social issues. When it comes to education, jobs and illegal drugs, African American voters largely support government programs to help with these concerns.
Traditionally, African Americans have been strong supporters of a government that provides many services. In November 2003, 69% of African American voters said they preferred a bigger government providing more services, while just 40% of voters nationwide agreed.
On one issue, black voters take a more conservative position than the public overall -- same sex marriage.
More than half (53%) of African American voters think there should be no legal recognition of same-sex relationships. Among voters overall, 39% share this view.
43% of black voters support some type of legal recognition for same-sex couples; among all voters, 59% do.
Much of the objections are religious ones: among the most devoutly religious African Americans (those who attend church weekly), over seven in 10 think there should be no legal recognition of same-sex relationships.
Religion is extremely important to many black voters – more important than it is to voters overall. 41% of African American voters say they attend religious services every week, and an additional 12% say they attend almost every week.
In a CBS News/New York Times poll conducted in June, 26% of voters nationwide said they attended religious services every week.
There are some differences according to age and gender. Among African American voters, women are more likely than men to attend religious services each week; 45% of black women voters attend services each week, compared to 35% of black voters who are men. Older voters attend more frequently than younger ones.
African American voters are somewhat divided as to what would do the most to make sure African American children receive a good education. 44% think changing school district boundaries so that wealthy and poorer schools are combined would do the most good, but almost as many – 40% - say more government aid sent directly to public schools would do the most.
One proposal that most African American voters don't see as the best solution is school vouchers. Just one in ten cite this as the best option.
Given a set of choices, blacks say some things would work better than quotas to get more African-Americans to attend college. 65% of African-American voters say better college preparation in elementary and high school would be the best way to help more African Americans attend college. 25% think more financial assistance from the federal government would be the best way. Only 4% cite more spaces in college set aside specifically for black students as the best way to help more African Americans go to college.
Crime and Drugs
By a wide margin, African American voters see more community programs and activities for young people as something that would most help to solve the problems of crime and violence among youths in the black community. Less than one in five say holding parents legally responsible for the actions of their children would help, while just 6% say longer and harsher jail sentences would do the most.
While majorities of black voters across the board think more community programs for youth would help remedy crime and violence, older voters are more likely than younger ones to say parents need to be held more responsible for their children's actions.
African American voters are tougher on the issue of illegal drugs. More than a third thinks that more law enforcement crackdowns on drug dealers would do the most to help solve this problem. But again, these voters place a great deal of faith in government programs; 28% think drug treatment programs and 25% think drug education programs are the best bet.
Blacks differ from voters overall when it comes to support for the death penalty. Most black voters in this poll oppose it. 44% of African American voters think a life sentence without parole should be the appropriate punishment for persons convicted of murder, while 25% prefer a long prison sentence with a chance of parole. Just 18% support the death penalty for a convicted murderer. These views are in stark contrast to those of voters nationwide; in an August 2001 CBS News Poll, 44% of voters supported the death penalty for those convicted of murder.
Even though they say there are better means than quotas to ensure that more African-Americans attend college, African American voters strongly support affirmative action programs. 76% say such programs should be continued for the foreseeable future. 15% think affirmative actions programs should be phased out over the next few years, while only 3% think affirmative action should end now.
While African Americans support affirmative action programs across all demographic groups, black voters who describe themselves as conservative are more likely to say that affirmative action programs should be ended now or phased out. 27% of these conservatives express this view, compared to 18% of African American voters overall.
Interviews were conducted among 986 African American adults by telephone. Interviews were conducted from July 6-15, 2004, by CBS News on behalf of BET. These respondents were part of nationwide representative samples identified in households previously interviewed by CBS News Polls.
The sample is weighted to ensure that the distribution of interviews mirrors the distribution of the entire population of African-Americans across a variety of variables.
The weighting procedures are as follows:
1. Each respondent receives a weight inversely proportional to his or her probability of selection. This weight is calculated by taking the HOUSEHOLD weight from the original source survey times the number of members in the household. (For the original adult surveys, weighting factors included the number of telephone voice lines in a household and respondent demographic characteristics matched to Census data on region, age, education, gender and race.)
2. The weights were then adjusted to match Census Bureau estimates of African Americans by sex, age, region of the country and education.
Margin of Error
The margin of error for this survey is plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the entire sample. That means that 95 times out of a hundred, the results are within three percentage points of what they would be if the entire universe of African Americans were interviewed. The error for subgroups is larger.
Included throughout this analysis are data from CBS News and CBS News/New York Times national polls of adults.
Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.