Tim Tyson weighs in

Lifted from a comment on another thread:

The WRAL poll that said only 87 per cent of African American voters supported President Obama was as silly as the stories in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, PBS News Hour and NPR, among others, that asserted that black voters in North Carolina were deserting the president over the marriage equality issue. James Protzman was mistaken, too, that the Times story cut to the heart of the election in North Carolina. All of these narratives were rooted merely in what the authors "knew" that they knew without actually doing real research; the poll, of course, did involve research--really badly flawed research. I will never even bother to read another WRAL poll.

The real story

Shrewd politicos in North Carolina knew certain things. For example, African American registration was much higher than in 2008. It certainly looked like turnout would be up, too, and it was. Early voting quickly made it clear that this would be the case; as I called around to check with friends about how things were going, everyone noted the long lines at early voting sites, lines that were sometimes nearly all-black and nearly always heavily black. To go to such places and walk up the line saying hello to people was to realize that none of these people were standing in line to vote for Mitt Romney.

But the media reported that the President was in danger of losing significant support among black voters, when those of us working in the trenches every day in these communities knew full well that was not true. In the end, as I said quite awhile ago, it appears that the President had more support among black voters than in 2008, which was visible from that distance. But on this particular story it appeared to me that neither WRAL nor the New York Times nor the Christian Science Monitor nor the PBS News Hour nor NPR news reporters checked certain obvious things before writing these lookalike stories about the President's loss of support in black communities.

Precinct returns from all-white precincts and all-black precincts on the Amendment vote; the number and especially the stature of the African American ministers involved are two things that spring to mind. More black preachers spoke out against the Amendment than for it and the ones who did support the Amendment most loudly were not the state's most respected or most able ministers; the "beat the Book and Holler" preachers like Patrick Wooden, who were not the sharpest tack in the box anyway, tended to be the loudest. The record level of African American voter registration was another clear, empirical indicator that never got noted to my knowledge. The PBS News Hour "proved" that blacks were moving away from the President by interviewing my friend Professor William Darity, who said he was not going to vote for President Obama, as if he was a representative African American in North Carolina instead of a brilliant and absolutely sui generis economist whose political views bear little resemblance to nearly all black voters.

The real news story was the historic alliance between the NAACP and the organized LGBT community well before the election. Rev. Dr. Barber's work in the African American community went almost uncovered by the press. Yet it was historic, widespread and effective; night after night, from one end of the state to the other, engaging people in a candid and substantive conversation that respected their beliefs but confronted their prejudices and reminded them of their values. At times he was at a different church every night. All of the press outlets above wrote stories without deep digging; how this historic shift came about it takes no reporting skills whatsoever to find someone at a Baptist Church who opposes marriage equality, but considerably more to learn enough about the dynamics in the largest and most loyal group within the Democratic Party, within which there is not a simple thumbs-up, thumbs-down consensus on marriage equality, but a response filled with nuances, with the consensus the most broad in agreement of who their enemies are and what the quality of their "Christian" commitment entails.

Did anyone report that Rev. Dr. Barber, with the help of seasoned NAACP leaders like Ms. Carolyn Coleman of Greensboro, managed to change the policy of the national NAACP, a shift that had been successfully resisted for years, even though some of the group's best minds--Julian Bond, for example--had advocated it. The conventional wisdom was that it was untouchable topic. Rev. Dr. Barber did that. I don't think anyone reported that, to my knowledge.

The New York Times, NPR, the PBS News Hour, the Christian Science Monitor and WRAL all got this one wrong, in some measure by working in an self-referential journalism echo chamber, where stories begat stories and the stories that got it going were not solid in the first instance. The WRAL poll turned out to have put an 87 where it should have put a 95 or 96, which is pretty far off. There wasn't a shift among black voters right at the end. This has been happening for many, many months. Everybody I asked about that just laughed in my face and said, oh, no, it's a lot more complicated than that, and don't worry about it, that ain't happening, nobody listens to Wooden and his dum-dum friends. The story was a truly historic one, and different than the one that all these media outlets "knew" was true, and yet the editors "knew" the story before it was reported somehow. I think that is worth pondering. I also think the story should still be told.


In my own defense

"The heart of the matter" I was referring to is the overwhelming importance of African American voters ... which in retrospect, was not clear in the slightest. Having written thousands of posts and tens of thousands of comments at BlueNC, I'm afraid I've become a slacker when it comes to rhetorical precision.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Hope you don't mind that I moved it to the front page.

Where they got it wrong

I understand Tim's point about the NAACP adapting a pro-LGBT position, but I don't think that was even necessary to counter the right's attempt to erode votes for Obama among AA voters.

The bottom line is, most Democrats (including African-American D's) are more concerned with substance than Republicans are, but the GOP (and apparently the media) just took for granted that African American D's would react like reactionary Republicans over Obama's support of LGBT issues. They were wrong.

Rev Barber did so much

Rev. Barber did so much and is owed a great deal of thanks.


The Vice President came out in favor to marriage equality in response to questioning relating to the NC struggles, and the President followed suit in short order. The national NAACP also came out for marriage equality, following the President, but also with the national head of the NAACP saying on the Rachel Maddow show that it was in large part a response to the struggle in North Carolina. Rev. Barber was of course a huge help on that.

And now places like Maryland (among others) just added marriage equality at the polls by a narrow 4% margin. One voice can change the world. And if that's not enough of a reminder, here's another:

I've also got to say that I'm really excited to see the LGBT community embracing HKonJ. I'm hearing people talk about it just as excitedly as they do the annual Pride march in September and I think that's awesome.

Once again, confusion. WRALs

Once again, confusion. WRALs owner was banking heavily on a Romney win and it showed on WRAL. Why would anyone pay attention to a WRAL poll anyway?

WRAL's owner supports Romney? Really?

Jim Goodmon, who owns WRAL, is quite politically progressive. He has sharply criticized conservatives in the state legislature for their persistent policies that cut taxes and increase benefits for very rich people like himself. He supports the NC NAACP and public school teachers as heavily.as anyone in the state who springs to mind. Maybe he supported Romney; he was once and may still be a registered Republican. But I doubt it. I myself wish he'd run for governor and I am not exactly a Republican. I know of no evidence that he supported Romney. I do know that he often says that he did not desert the GOP, that they deserted him by careening to the far right. So I am dubious but open to concrete evidence.

Still not sure why Obama went from 14K up in 2008...

...to 97K down in 2012. Where did the 109K difference come from?

It wasn't from the UNA voters, who PPP claimed in 2008 were shifting Dem in our state.

McCrory beat Dalton by 500K votes, but Coleman was only down 12K votes on Election Night.

I saw lots of bullet voting out there. With all these candidates and campaigns doing their own thing, they forget they needed to rely on each other.

The closest thing I saw to a really coordinated campaign in 2008 was the 5 different campaigns that all claimed to be coordinated. About the only unifying element was the Obama-Straight-Flip "Vote 1-2-3" signs that the Perdue campaign paid for. The NCDP at that time was not pushing a really coordinated campaign - it seemed to be that more counties were pushing it on the campaigns in order to get the campaigns to stop being so freaking selfish.

Using that leverage to force a little bit more cooperation and coordination was non-existent in 2010, and very hard to find this year - except in small pockets. Any new NCDP Chair and County Chairs in the top and second tier counties will have to get together and make the candidates and the campaigns buy in for the future - otherwise it'll be everyone for themselves.

And we know how well that works, don't we?

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

Obama got more votes in 2012

in North Carolina than he did in 2008. 35,737 more votes, actually. But some 4% of the white votes migrated to the Romney side.

Make of that what you will, but I think McCain's posturing had a lot of folks scared he would be militarily aggressive, and Romney not so much.