Damian Geminder and Michaela Ross

Nut graf/news hook: The 2016 presidential election is likely to be the first since 2004 where a black candidate is not on the ballot. The national dialogue on race relations has been intensifying in recent months as case after case of police brutality targeting black males has stoked massive protests, both peaceful and violent. Criminal justice reform is almost certain to become a major issue in the next election. But will this debate affect black voter turnout, and will these black votes matter?

We will ask political scientists at Baruch College if they feel the racial tension surrounding the criminal justice reform debates will stimulate black voter turnout, despite the lack of a major-party black candidate. We will also visualize the election data from four crucial states that swung from voting Republican in 2004 to voting Democratic in 2008 – leading to the election of our current president, Barack Obama – because of strong black voter turnout.

By examining the shift between these elections, we can see just how much black votes matter. In 2004, the Republican incumbent, George W. Bush, won the presidency with 11 percent of the black vote, to Democratic challenger John Kerry’s 88 percent. But in 2008, the election swung to the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, who won 95 percent of the black vote and the presidency. Blacks made up 11 percent of the 2004 electorate and increased their share to 13 percent in 2008.

We plan to show black voter trends over the last few elections using a line graph, with a particular focus on the four swing states Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia. We will also present a state map showing how black votes correlate with Democratic support county-by-county.

The Data:

Specialists we have contacted:
The following are Baruch College professors:

Micheline Blum: Director of Baruch College Survey Research (BCSR). Before founding her own firm, Blum was manager of Polling & Election Operations at NBC News for 11 years. She is President-Elect of the New York Chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and teaches survey research at Baruch. She has also served on the national AAPOR Council and is an elected member of the Market Research Council.

Doug Muzzio: Professor of Political Science. He has taught courses in U.S. urban politics and government, leadership and strategy, campaigns and elections, and public opinion and public policy.

David Birdsell: Dean of the Baruch College School of Public Affairs. He serves on the New York City Broadband Advisory Committee and on the boards of the VCG Governance Matters and the New York Census Research Data Center. He is a member of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration’s Executive Council.

Their press relations contacts are:
Manny Romero, 646-660-6141,

Mercedes Sanchez, 646-660-6112,