This is the second in a series of stories about key battleground states and electoral blocs for the fall campaign.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In 2008, they were motivated, optimistic, and ultimately elated. Black women here and around the country weren’t just behind President Obama, they made history: among all racial, ethnic and gender groups, African-American women had the highest voter turnout rate, the first time that has ever happened. About 69 percent of voting-age black women cast ballots, nearly all for Obama.
Four years later, the mood has changed. The ground troops here haven’t lost their enthusiasm, but they admit the road ahead will be tougher. They see “doom and gloom” among some fellow Obama supporters that worries them.
Related: the Grio’s look at Obama’s chances in North Carolina
“It’s hard to re-create the kind of excitement and energy of a first-in-history kind of scenario, but I think that support exists nonetheless,” said 47-year-old Valaida Fullwood of Charlotte, who volunteered extensively for Obama’s campaign in 2008.
Fullwood, a writer and consultant in philanthropy, added, “I don’t have the disposable income to commit in the ways I did before, taking off days and weekends and renting vans.” But she said she is still committed to the get out the vote in the general election. “Because of the emotional roller coaster that the last campaign brought, I know how to pace myself a little better. . I’m saving up for some endurance to help out in the final stretch.”
The black female vote will be even more critical now for the president than in 2008, both in North Carolina and around the country. He won this state by only about 14,000 votes, of among more than 4 million cast. But polls suggest the president has lost ground among white, moderate voters here and around the country.
And Democratic officials privately say they could see some drop-off among young black men, who have struggled more than almost in any other group to get jobs in the weak economy of the last four years.
So Obama will need black women to turn out like they did in 2008 for him to carry states like Virginia, Florida and North Carolina, that are crucial to his reelection hopes and have large African-American populations.
In short, he needs people like Fulwood not only to vote, but make sure their relatives, friends and neighbors do as well.
In 2008, Fullwood was a part of family of Obama activists. Her sister Diatra Fullwood, 45, and cousin Britt Brewer-Loudd, 46, were also extensively involved in the campaign.