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Assessing the Poll on Black Voter Sentiment
Issued by the Joint Center on Political Studies

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.
Chicago, Illinois

The recent poll by the Joint Center on Political and Economic Studies provides some insight into the 2004 election. It clearly shows that African Americans oppose the Bush administration’s policies as related to jobs and the economy, the war in Iraq, and health care. Bush’s negative ratings are higher now than they were in 2000. The Joint Center poll indicates overwhelming support for John Kerry.

It should be noted, however, that a similar poll conducted by the Joint Center Poll in 2000 indicated 74% of African Americans support presidential candidate Al Gore. We know that by Election Day -- by decision time -- Gore won 90% of the Black vote. That’s because most polls only include likely voters in their sample. Not included are the newly registered, “unlikely voters” or those that only use cell phones. The poll was also taken prior to the recent debates that have resulted in changing voter preferences.

African Americans vote out interests. We consciously choose not to be on the team of Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Newt Gingrich -- a team hostile to civil rights that voted to keep Mandela in jail, and sided with the wealthy while ignoring the pressing needs of African Americans and working families.

Blacks have historically voted our interests: we stood with Lincoln when he committed to emancipation. We voted for Roosevelt when he created jobs. We voted with Eisenhower when he committed to bring the troops home from Korea. We stood with Carter and Clinton as they reached out to Blacks with an effective domestic and international agenda.

Bush says Democrats take Blacks for granted, as if we don’t make judgments about our options. Republicans seek to take Blacks for fools. They offer symbols without substance.

What are our interests? African Americans strongly oppose the misguided war in Iraq. We see presidential mis-leadership, with lives being lost, mounting casualties, and $200 billion spent, African Americans want our resources redirected to reinvest in American and put America back to work.

We want their civil rights protected and expanded, and the doors of the White House and Justice Department open to all Americans. We want decent jobs and to raise the minimum wage. We want to protect overtime pay for workers working overtime. We support affirmative action to offset decades of negative action. We fought and died for the right to vote, want our vote protected and not disenfranchised through republican voter suppression tactics.

Under Bush African Americans have suffered disproportionately when it comes to unemployment, health care and education.

We want humanitarian aid and logistical support, and presidential leadership, in the Sudan and Haiti, and a foreign policy that respects human rights, international law and cooperation.

The historic civil rights and labor organizations -- NAACP, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Rainbow/PUSH, AFL-CIO, NOW, Sierra Club -- have been denied the most basic access to meet with President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft to discuss pressing matters of urban decay, inadequate schools and housing, rising unemployment, policies that infringe upon civil, workers’ and women’s rights. As we face numerous schemes to suppress and disenfranchise our vote, lack of support for protecting these most sacred of all democratic rights, the closed door policy is deeply offensive to Black people and those that cherish democracy. I predict we will vote in overwhelming numbers in 2004, and we will vote in our interest. The Bush-Ashcroft closed door policy is against our interest.

-- Issued October 19, 2004

Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., is founder and President of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

Published in In Motion Magazine October 25, 2004.

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