Emotional Responses of African American Voters to Ad Messages
Jon D. Morris
Marilyn S. Roberts
Gail F. Baker
University of Florida
The final results of the 1996 presidential election came as no surprise to most voters who followed the media's coverage of public opinion polls. "It was a race that never really changed: Bill Clinton started ahead and stayed there" ( The Numbers, 1996, p. 13). The 1996 presidential campaign has been referred to as a maintaining or status quo election. In making political comparisons, voters returned an incumbent president to office in economic good times just as they had done in 1984 with Ronald Reagan. However, Clinton was the first Democrat to be reelected for a second term since Franklin Roosevelt.
A more dubious comparison of the 1996 campaign was made to the 1956 rematch of incumbent president Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. The 1996 campaign drew the lowest voter turnout since 1956, an election that also had an early predicted outcome. However, one group of voters who were extremely concerned about the results of the 1996 campaign was African Americans.
Ten percent of the total votes cast in the 1996 presidential campaign were cast by African Americans, compared to 5% cast by Hispanics and Latinos and 1% by Asian American voters. In 1996, the African American vote broke out 84% for Clinton, 12% for Dole, and 4% for Perot. Similar results were seen in 1992 when Clinton garnered 83%, Bush 10%, and Perot 7%. Pomper ( 1997) wrote, "The gender gap, differences in preferences between women and men, now emulates established divisions of class, race, and region" (p. xi).
The Black political experience in the United States is peppered with unforgettable and emotional images of protest marches, water hoses, Na-