According to the latest census numbers New Jersey's population is about 15% black.
And if the turnout on November 3rd reflects that Jon Corzine can probably start planning for his second term.
Here's the thing though: even last year with Barack Obama on the ballot exit polls showed turnout from African Americans lagging their share of the population at 12%.
Now most of the pollsters I could find sample composition by race for are expecting something even lower than that. Democracy Corps has it at 10%, we have it at 9%, and Monmouth has it at only 8%. Research 2000, at 12%, is the only company I could find projecting it at the same level as last year.
I usually think of 'worst case scenario' for black turnout as being 80% of the state's black population, i.e. a state with a 15% black population would have a 12% black electorate. But given that's where New Jersey was last year we don't have much choice but to rethink that assumption.
It's a pretty similar story in Virginia. The population there is 20% black and so was the electorate last year. We've had it in the 16-18% range on all of our polls. Insider Advantage had it at 18% on their recent poll, Research 2000 had it at 16%, and SurveyUSA had it at 17% last week and then 15% this week. We'll be watching African American poll response closely the next four weeks...I think it's possible it could go even as low as 13 or 14%...or as high as 18 or 19%. It's just really hard to say what that engagement level's going to be when election day gets here.
Barack Obama will probably show up to campaign for these folks and no doubt folks will come to see him...but will that get them excited enough to show up and vote for Jon Corzine and Creigh Deeds? Hard to say.