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Less enthusiasm this time for Obama in South Central L.A.

voters sentinel crenshaw

Backers of President Obama are finding less enthusiasm for the president in South Central L.A. this time around, though they still expect him to do well in this stronghold area.

Hundreds of volunteers with the nonprofit organization Community Coalition are spending the last days before the election trying to reach 22,0000 new and occasional voters in the region.

Their message: Even if the excitement has faded, they still need to vote.

"We got out of the hole that we are in," said Marqueece Harris-Dawson, president of Community Coalition. "But we are just putting the building blocks down."

Organizations, including Community Coalition, have held debate and mock election parties to educate voters on the local propositions and national issues that affect their communities. And although the turnout remains strong at these events, the college-age crowd has been notably absent.

Jeanne Blaker, 77, a Democratic organizer, said she orchestrated thousands of volunteers in 2008, many of them young and excited. Nowadays, she's working with hundreds of volunteers; few are between the ages of 18 and 32.

"This is a different crowd all around," Blaker said of the hundred people who are volunteering this weekend. "Majority are more mature. We don't have a youth movement here in Inglewood."

Jefferson Jeffords recalled the fervor from that election — and the promise of change — that propelled him to campaign tirelessly for Obama during the last presidential election.

The then-26-year-old taped a large Obama poster on the rear window of his Honda, donated part of his meager college student wages to the campaign, and spent hours at a call center urging people to cast their vote for the Democratic candidate.

These days, it's hard to tell if Jeffords even endorses the man he helped win a first term. When asked what he's doing this year to help Obama's reelection efforts, he formed a zero with his left hand.

"My feelings have not changed," he said. "But I feel like ... he could've done more."

This time, Obama wins his vote by default: "Sometimes, somebody gets the vote because you don't believe in the other person's policies."

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--Angel Jennings

Photo: Voters at the Los Angeles Sentinel voting precinct in the Crenshaw district Nov. 4, 2008. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

 
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