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Election Watch 2016

David L. Horne, PH.D. | 11/4/2016, midnight
In some ways, it will be very good for President Barack Obama to step away from the White House in ...

The California portion of this scenario is significant. First, this state commands the largest electoral college vote count, 55, with winner-take-all the rule of the road for the presidential election (that is, whichever presidential candidate obtains the most popular votes in each state on Nov. 8, earns all of each state’s electoral college votes. Only Nebraska and Maine, with miniscule electoral votes, do not follow this rule). The winner-take-all rule is why it is crucial for everyone to vote. One person’s vote can actually determine who wins the presidential election in that state. For example, if one candidate gets, say, 990,000 votes from a state; the candidate who gets 990,001 gets all of that state’s electoral college votes. Second, out of 53 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the California Republicans account for 14 seats, and the Democrats for 39 seats. Both current U.S. Senators from California are Democrats, and the two candidates vying to replace retiring Senator Barbara Boxer are also Democrats. For California, though there may be a slight change in the ratio of Democrat-Republican House seats, this state’s position in the pantheon of national leadership should basically remain stable after Nov. 8.

By the way, by comparison with California’s 55 electoral college votes, the next largest in order are Texas (38), Florida (29), New York (29), Illinois (20), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Georgia (16), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Washington State (12), etc. Winning the right combination of 15 states can make one president, thus the continuing discussion about the battleground states.

With this election, what will likely happen to the progress for the Black community made during the Obama administration?

That progress includes the Jump Start Our Business (JOBS) Start-Up Act (2012), which provides vastly more access by African Americans to business capital for investments and entrepreneurship opportunities. The president’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which is not a specifically federally-funded program, is a major advocacy and creation of this president. None before him set up such a program, which is aimed at improving the lives of young African American males by providing them training, mentorship, employment and educational opportunities, financial literacy classes, etc.

With the 14 million or so jobs American businesses have added during the eight years of the Obama presidency, the African American unemployment rate has been cut in half, from 16.8 percent when George Bush left office to 8.3 percent as of December 2015. The president, through the Labor Department, published a set of guidelines to help recruit, hire and train hundreds of hard-core, long-term unemployed Americans into new jobs. The president’s fight for Obamacare got 20 million more Americans healthcare insurance, including millions of African Americans. The rate of uninsured Americans has fallen from 16 percent when Mr. Bush left office, to 11.9 percent now, and would be even lower had not a large number of Republican governors blocked “free” (paid for by the federal government) Medicaid expansion in their states. President Obama got Pell Grant amounts increased, student loan interest rates reduced, repayments capped at 10 percent of income, and made permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides a $10,000 tax cut to families for four years to pay for college (affects more than 10 million families). Besides championing criminal justice reform and adjustments in policing, the president signed the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010, which reduced the inequality of penalties between powder and crack cocaine; he commuted the sentences of more than 650 non-