To this day, the Democrats take the black vote for granted - confident that 95 percent will once again cast their ballots for Mr. Obama. Will President Obama lock up the black vote in such high numbers as he did in 2008? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Enter Gov. Romney. Rather than appear before the NAACP Convention and pander, Romney offered his positive vision of the country if he were elected president. Rather than change his cadence and message before a group of black people, Romney spoke to them as unique individuals.
For his part, VP Biden gave a standard campaign speech - more government spending, more government healthcare, more entitlements. Then he descended into class warfare (wealthy not paying fair share) followed by racial scare tactics (Republicans want to make access to voting harder).
The tone of Biden's speech was everything blacks have heard before without offering anything new of what a second term of office might mean to blacks to look forward to. Even worse, Biden did the typical white Democrat politician approach before black audiences by whooping and hollering like he was standing in the pulpit on Sunday.
How will this translate to electoral success in November? For the scattering of boos that were heard during the speech yesterday, I suspect ears of some black voters that had always tuned Romney out listened in and heard a different person than they've been told about. The more Romney continues this outreach, the more people will be willing to give him a chance to be heard.
Also, independents are going to decide this election cycle. Rather than appearing as a rich white guy who was out of touch, Romney was quite engaging and comfortable before hundreds of black folks gathered in a convention setting that was less than home territory. This will change some minds as well.
Finally, by aggressively courting black voters unlike other GOP standard-bearers in the past, Romney could well peel 1-2 percentage points of the black vote away from Obama - millions of votes that could well make the difference in a tight election.