Published July 10, 2012
An array of prominent political figures are converging on Houston this week for the NAACP's annual convention.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke Tuesday, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks Wednesday and Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled for Thursday. But one person is noticeably absent: President Obama himself.
Political experts say this is an indicator of just how confident the president is that the majority of black voters will go his way.
"Granted, the novelty and historic dimensions have faded," says political expert Mark Jones of Rice University, "but I believe the president feels the African-American community will turn out in force to elect him."
Indeed, polls show the president enjoys almost as much support among African-American voters now as he did four years ago. Still, if it's a close election, experts are keeping their eyes on a few key swing states like Florida, Ohio and Virginia -- states where a surge of African-American voters could make a difference for the president.
Attendees of the NAACP convention are determined to get as many voters out to the polls as possible. They're organizing and developing plans to leave the convention, go back to their communities and reach out to those who haven't yet registered.
They'll also be using new media, like text messaging, to capture part of the electorate that hasn't signed up to cast ballots in November. More importantly, they want to make sure current voters aren't discouraged from heading to the polls. They point to recent voter ID laws as an impediment to poor and minority voters.
Eric Holder addressed the issue of voter ID laws Tuesday when speaking to the conference.
"Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them," Holder said, "and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them."
Holder promised to fight voter ID laws he thinks unfairly targets minorities, which is why the Justice Department moved to block Texas from enacting its voter ID law. The case is playing out this week in a Washington, D.C., court, and a three-judge panel is expected to rule by next month on whether the Lone Star State can move forward with the law in time for the general election.