Commentary: Black Voters “Below Measurable Levels” in GOP Primaries

Commentary: Black Voters “Below Measurable Levels” in GOP Primaries

The “rise of the Black Republican” story was all the rage a few years ago, but the lack of support from African-Americans points to alienation of Black voters.

Published March 13, 2012

In the 2010 midterm elections, more than 30 African-Americans ran for House and Senate seats on the Republican ticket. Many of the Black contenders had no chance of winning, of course, but even their existence astonished people.

The New York Times published an article about the phenomenon called “Black Hopefuls Pick This Year in G.O.P Races.” “The House has not had a black Republican since 2003, when J. C. Watts of Oklahoma left after eight years," wrote Jennifer Steinhauer. “But now black Republicans are running across the country — from a largely white swath of beach communities in Florida to the suburbs of Phoenix, where an African-American candidate has raised more money than all but two of his nine (white) Republican competitors in the primary.”

In the end, only two Black Republicans won their races in 2010: Allen West of Florida and Tim Scott of South Carolina. But in the ensuing months, there was a lot more talk of the rise of the Black Republican.

Former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain said that the only reason more African-Americans aren’t Republicans is because they’ve been “brainwashed” by Democrats. And last year Congressman Scott told a reporter, “[If] Black people vote their issues, they will vote Republican more often than not.” According to new exit polls from the GOP primaries, it turns out Scott was very, very wrong.

Writing for The Nation, John Nichols wanted to quantify how many African-Americans were turning out to vote in the increasingly circus-like GOP primary elections. There was only one problem with his plan: So few Blacks have been turning up that they’re “below measurable levels.”

In Georgia, where African-Americans make up 31 percent of the electorate, the African-American turnout in this year’s Republican primary was — according to exit polls — barely 3 percent of the total GOP vote on Super Tuesday.

So few African-Americans voted in the Republican primary that it was impossible for the exit pollsters to determine whether Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul was the favorite. The numbers are so slight that they cannot be accurately assigned, so each candidate’s support level is simply identified as “N/A” — not available.

We told you before that Black Republicans trying to court Black voters to their side would be a fool’s errand. It’s nice to be right, but it’s also sad to see the GOP continue to boldly ignore and alienate Black voters.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Written by Cord Jefferson


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