Give It Up, Study Says: Blacks Aren’t Voting Republican
According to a new study published in Political Research Quarterly, black voters are not swayed by black Republican candidates. “Historical legacies provide deeply rooted ties between blacks and the Democratic Party,” said the study’s authors. “These ties may simply render it impossible for Republicans – black or otherwise – to move public opinion or mobilize among blacks.”
The study, conducted by political scientists from Washington University and the University of Chicago, found that black Republican candidates in 2010 did not move the needle for the GOP when it came to attracting black voters. This revelation throws into question the strategy of RNC chief Reince Priebus, who has made a push for the black vote by seeking black Republican candidates. Though there have been some success stories – Mia Love and Tim Scott among them – the study confirms that these anomalies were voted in by the usual GOP electorate and not crossover minorities.
The numbers, in fact, may demonstrate that such a strategy can actually backfire. In congressional races where black Republicans were on the ticket, black voter turnout was higher than usual. Unfortunately, those voters came to the polls to vote for Democrats.
“Black citizens appear to conclude that they do not share common political values with Republicans, whether black or not,” said the study. “As a consequence, black Republican candidates simply do not evoke the same response from black citizens as black Democratic candidates.”
Due to the changing demographics of the country, Republicans cannot afford to simply write off the black vote. It won’t be long before it will be mathematically impossible for the GOP to win national elections if the base remains demographically fixed. But the cynical strategy of putting a black candidate on the stage and saying, “Look, he’s just like you,” is a failing one. Republican leadership has underestimated the intelligence of the black voter, much as they have underestimated their usual voting base for years.
If the conservative message is one rooted in truth, then it can easily cross lines of racial disparity. One look at cities under the thumb of liberal Democrats is enough to show you how much party loyalty is doing for African-Americans. Conservative policies have the potential to help black Americans more than almost any other group in this country, if only they were given the chance.
To get that chance, Republicans are going to have to change the way they deliver the message. They are going to have to look for ways to address black voters without condescension, without judgment, and without pandering. They are going to have to draw a picture of what liberal policies have done to black communities and families, making direct connections that are based in fact. Instead of ignoring the common Democratic platforms of income inequality and black incarceration rates, they must tackle these issues with the simplest, most powerful weapon in any politician’s armory: the truth.
That weapon, judging by the congressional circus we’ve been watching since January, has been missing for a while. If the GOP wants to remain viable for decades to come, they might want to find it.