What’s With Obama’s High Approval Ratings Among Blacks?

As the president's poll numbers sag among whites and other Americans, conservatives claim that racial allegiance keeps numbers high among African Americans. Here's what they haven't factored in.

President Obama Speaks On Health Care In Portland, Maine

Beginning last week, President Obama’s approval rating is now the lowest it’s ever been, with just 45 percent of Americans saying they’re satisfied with the job he’s doing, according to Gallup. With the economy still flagging, the WikiLeaks fiasco looming over Afghanistan and an embarrassing run-in with new populist hero Shirley Sherrod, the president, who once seemed untouchable, is losing support from practically every demographic, including formerly reliable allies. Women, young people, Democrats and the highly educated are all slowly losing faith in the Obama administration.

Yet as supporters peel away by the day, one group has yet to significantly give up on the president: African Americans. Though Obama no longer enjoys the 96 percent black approval of months past, he’s still never known what it’s like to not have the support of at least 80 percent of African American voters. Currently, more than nine out of 10 blacks polled approve of Barack Obama’s job performance, a bounce back from a year low of 85 percent following the Sherrod dustup. There have been apologies and speeches since then, and Obama is back on top — at least with blacks.

That the president gets such high marks in the African-American community is cause for consternation among conservatives. In the Washington Examiner, Byron York suggests that blacks are somehow unfairly tipping the scales — an absurd premise — when he writes that “the president and some of his policies are significantly less popular with white Americans than with black Americans, and his sky-high ratings among African Americans make some of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are.” Here, a conservative African-American blogger calling himself “Right Black” posits, “I think that the [more than] 60 percent of African Americans who support President Barack Obama do so because they are proud to see him, someone who looks like them, in the White House.”

Such is a common refrain by Obama’s detractors on the right: Black people like Obama because he’s black, not because of his ideology or policy decisions. Once again, here’s Byron York in the National Review:

Black Democrats are voting largely along racial lines. With few policy differences between the candidates, Obama won 92 percent of the black vote in Mississippi, 91 percent in Wisconsin, 87 percent in Ohio, 84 percent in Maryland, and 84 percent in Texas. White Democrats are voting significantly less along racial lines, but there are still divisions.

One need only consider this year’s extensive list of trounced black Republicans to know that African-American voters do, in fact, look past skin color when electing leaders. It’s a lie — and a subtly racist one at that — to suggest that blacks voted for Obama primarily because they identified with his ethnicity.