Post-Obama Drama

A film by Cyndee Readdean and Deborah Hardt

In 2008 and 2012 African-Americans in Florida turned out in record numbers for Barack Obama even when voting hours and registration rules were tightened. What are the challenges among the black electorate that the Democratic candidate in 2016 will face in this must-win state? To find out, we visit a number of African-Americans in the city, from a black chamber of commerce meeting, to a picnic of friends, and ending at a lively black heritage celebration.

The Backstory:

One of the hallmarks of the Barack Obama’s two national victories was the enthusiasm of African-American voters to elect the first black President and then to back him for a second term.  In 2012, black turnout exceeded white turnout (66.2% to 64.1%) for the first time in a national American election.

In Florida, the Republican controlled legislature’s actions to cut early voting days and restrict voter registration drives didn’t prevent long lines of African-American voters in 2012, crucial to the Obama’s 50% to 49.1% victory in the state.  But will those same voters be as enthusiastic to vote in 2016?  Without a strong turnout of largely Democratic black votes, can Hillary Clinton take the swing state that’s backed the national winner since her husband’s win there in 1996.

A visit to Jacksonville’s African-American community, where black turnout was high in 2008 and 2012, may give us an answer. 

About the Film:

Jacksonville’s racial politics have been of interest beyond the Obama wins.  While three thousand Palm County ballots for Pat Buchanan got all the publicity in the disputed 2000 Florida election, nearly 27,000 “flawed” ballots were thrown out from largely black polling places in Duval County that same election.  Jacksonville elected its first African-American mayor in 2011, but he subsequently lost for re-election to the former state Republican Party chair in 2015.  Now, after eight years of the Obama administration, will blacks turn out in November?

To find out, we visit with a number of African-Americans in the city.  From a black chamber of commence meeting to a picnic gathering of friends to a weekend black heritage celebration, the feelings are mixed.  Some wonder if its worth voting given the choices, while others enthusiastically register eligible voters, remembering the struggle to gain the vote in the first place.  The black vote in Jacksonville is predominantly Democratic, but Hillary Clinton’s chances to win Florida may ultimately hinge on just how many blacks go to the polls in November.