“What have the Democrats done for you lately?” Republicans should start asking black Americans that question — early and often. Here’s why engaging black voters could become the GOP’s secret weapon.
Republicans need not win the black vote. Securing 15 percent of the black electorate severely erodes the stalwart Democratic base. If 20 to 25 percent of blacks vote GOP, it’s curtains for Democrats.
If Republicans seek black votes, they will win some. As the Republican National Committee’s recent post-election autopsy noted: “We are never going to win over voters who are not asked for their support.”
Campaigning among black voters would help Republicans stop resembling “stuffy, old white men,” as an RNC focus group described them. Listening to and speaking with black Americans refutes the notion that Republicans are just country-club Caucasians. Shaking black hands and kissing black babies would reassure nervous white voters that Republicans are not bigots, and it’s OK to support them.
Democrats would be badly disarmed without the race card. Democrats would have to double down on their phony “War on Women” and stoke class hatred even harder.
Bored by cautious GOP nominees, Republicans and right-leaning independents likely would become electrified, knock on doors and turn out for Republicans who deploy this strategy. Had Mitt Romney visited black neighborhoods, unenthused conservatives would have become inspired and, at least, voted. That might have been Romney’s margin of victory.
The Republican message should combine opportunity-related themes with historical facts about Democrats’ largely shameful record towards blacks (from stymieing Reconstruction, to launching the Ku Klux Klan, and filibustering federal anti-lynching legislation and the 1964 Civil Rights Act). Democrats’ treatment of blacks remains pitiful (e.g. celebrating the leadership of the late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., a former KKK Exalted Cyclops, until his 2010 death in office.
Republicans can cite these changes from Obama’s first inauguration, in January 2009, to his second early this year: his defunding of the school voucher program in Washington, D.C. The rise of black unemployment (from 12.1 percent to 14.0 percent), an increase in poverty among blacks ages 18 to 64 (from 34.9 percent to 38.6 percent), and a fall in black median income (from $22,901 to $21,206).
Besides addressing the NAACP, Romney did little to win black votes. Nonetheless, against Obama, he won 6 percent of black voters, more than Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s 4 percent in 2008.
What if Romney had fought for black votes? He barely lost several swing states. With mildly stronger black support and a modestly tighter embrace among decreasingly “nervous” whites and energized GOP-base voters, Romney could have delivered an Electoral College squeaker.
Based on ballot results and exit polls, here’s how Romney could have added 65 electoral votes to his actual 206 and advanced to the Oval Office.
Boosting black support from 4 percent to 5 and, consequently, white votes from 61 percent to 61.5, would have won Romney Florida. Virginia’s analogous black numbers were 6 percent to 9 and, among whites, 61 percent to 63. Lifting 3 percent black support to 5 and white votes from 57 percent to 58.6 would have clinched Ohio. Success in Colorado meant growing black ballots from 6 percent to 9 and whites’ from 54 percent to 57.5.
These 69 additional electoral votes would have totaled 275 and spelled President Romney.
Rather than duck and cover when Democrats lie about Republicans’ so-called racism, the GOP should stand and fight. Top Republicans terminated slavery, wrote the Brown v. Board of Education decision, broke the Democratic filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, signed the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday into law, extended the 1965 Voting Rights Act into 2031, and appointed both of America’s two black secretaries of state.
Black voters deserve to hear the Republican vision of growth, prosperity and personal responsibility rather than the Democratic formula of profligacy, indebtedness and redistribution (unforgivably, also advanced by GOP socialist George W. Bush).
A muscular, year-round appeal to black voters would benefit the GOP and black Americans alike.