Thursday, October 14, 2004

Rise in black turnout could hurt Bush

By David Usborne in New York

14 October 2004

Black leaders are predicting a higher turnout among African-Americans in November's presidential election, a factor that could prove crucial in tipping the race in favour of John Kerry.

One group, Hip Hop Summit Action, is boasting it has persuaded an additional 2 million blacks to register to vote.

The Kerry campaign is, meanwhile, turning to a new superstar in the Democratic Party to boost turnout numbers. He is Barack Obama, the Illinois state senator who wowed the party's Boston convention in July with his keynote speech. Mr Obama is so far ahead in his bid to capture a US Senate seat that he is increasingly switching his time and dollars to campaigning for Mr Kerry.

Latest polls give Mr Obama a 45-point lead over his Republican opponent, Alan Keyes, in Illinois. The two men joined in a first face-to-face debate on Monday night but there is little suspense over who will be the victor. History is being made meanwhile - it is the first time both parties have fielded black candidates to battle one another and, barring a miracle upset, Mr Obama will be only the fifth African-American to take a seat in the Senate.

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