Samuel L. Jackson confessed to exactly why he voted for Obama in 2008. “I voted for Barack because he was black. ‘Cuz that’s why other folks vote for other people—because they look like them,” Jackson said in an interview with Ebony magazine. “That’s American politics, pure and simple. [Obama’s] message didn’t mean s–t to me.”
African-Americans overwhelmingly supported Obama 95 percent to 4 percent in 2008. Their support in recent polls appears to have remained steady, but Team Obama is playing it safe. They introduced barackobama.com/african-americans this month, a web portal specifically designed for black voters to engage with the campaign. Obama is also courting black voters with a web video. “I don’t think there’s a better time than African-American history month to consider the tremendous progress that we’ve made through the sacrifices of so many, or a better time to commit to meeting the very real challenges we face right now,” he said in the online appeal.
“We are greater together than we are alone,” Obama states in the niche market video. The president appears to be referring—not to the devoted multitude of “Yes We Can”—but to America’s 13 percent of color that voted overwhelmingly for him in 2008. While Team Obama’s race-based appeal is more coded and subtle than Jackson’s declaration, the actor may simply be summarizing the Obama campaign’s branding strategy for black Americans.