Obama won some 95 percent of the black vote in 2008. To win in 2012, he needs to be in that range again, and he likewise needs Latino voters to turn out for him in considerable numbers.
Many social scientists do not expect that black voters will leave Obama's fold – or sit out the election – simply because he extended a hand to a subset of young illegal immigrants.
"I do not believe this will be a problem for Obama in the election among blacks, since African-Americans are usually much more supportive of social justice for others, since they have been the victims so often of unfair rules and clear discrimination,” says Lori Brown, associate professor of sociology at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., via e-mail. “Even though many leaders or economists can see this could have a negative impact on blacks when competing for low-wage jobs,” she says, “this policy change is probably going to be seen as right.”
Beyond that, she notes, Obama’s arguments when he announced the new policy are allied with the philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr. and that of many black church leaders. “I would also argue that African-Americans are less likely than others, when hearing about new policies to ask, 'How will this affect me?' and are more likely to say, 'This is fair.' "
Blacks have a good understanding that a strong immigrant community supports broad-based work opportunities, says Ravi Perry, director of ethnic studies at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. "There have always been some in the black and Hispanic communities who have felt they are in competition for jobs,” he says, but “I don’t see this eroding significant support for Obama in November.”