Barack Obama (left) and his wife Michelle wave to delegates after he delivered his keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in Boston in this July 27, 2004, file photo. Obama was an Illinois state senator running for a U.S. Senate seat when he delivered what some call “The Speech,” a 17-minute star-making address at the 2004 convention. Four years later, Obama heads to the 2008 Democratic National Convention poised to become the first African American to receive the presidential nomination of one of the country’s two major political parties. (AP photo/Charlie Neibergall, file)
WASHINGTON — Young and minority Americans have been flocking to the nation’s “swing counties,” hotly contested areas that could play a crucial role in this year’s election.
That’s got to be good news for Barack Obama, bidding to become the first black president.
Blacks and Hispanics are moving to counties that already were racially diverse, such as Osceola in central Florida and Mecklenberg in North Carolina, home to Charlotte. They also are moving to key counties that remain predominantly white, such as Lake in northeast Ohio, Lehigh in eastern Pennsylvania and Oakland outside Detroit.
If this year’s election is as close as the past two, demographic shifts in these counties could make a big difference.
The racial changes reflect national trends: 93 percent of all counties are less white than they were at the start of the decade, according to new Census estimates. But the changes are even more profound in swing counties of potential battleground states, counties that were decided by razor-thin margins in 2000 and 2004 and could decide statewide winners this year.
“The key this time is there are a fair number of battleground states that are becoming more diverse, and maybe diverse enough to make a difference,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
“The diversity used to be mainly in pretty safe states, like Texas, California and New York,” he said.(p2)
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