Republican presidential primaries leaving African American voters cold
Some Republicans have talked about building a broader coalition as they fight Democratic President Barack Obama’s bid for re-election this year. But so far at least, they seem to be making no inroads in attracting black voters to back the party’s candidates in the primary race for the nomination to oppose the first African-American U.S. president in November.
The two Southern states that held Republican primaries on March 13, Alabama and Mississippi, are among those with the largest black populations – as a percentage of the total – of any in the United States. Mississippi, which is 37 percent black, is number one, and Alabama, at 26.2 percent, is sixth.
But according to CNN’s exit polls, only two percent of the voters in each state on Tuesday were black, a number so low that their support for any of the Republican presidential candidates registered as N/A — too small to register a preference. As John Nichols points out in The Nation, the results have been similar in other states that have held primaries so far. South Carolina, for example, is 27.9 percent black but had a 1 percent black voter turnout in the Republican primary, and in Michigan, which is 14.2 percent black, 2 percent of voters in the Republican primary were black.
African Americans account for 12.6 percent of the overall U.S. population, and supported Obama by a 96 percent to 4 percent margin in 2008 as he won the White House.
Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said the party would stress its economic message as the 2012 campaign continues.
“We’re going to be aggressively courting all Americans in the fall because this president’s economic policies have failed everyone in our country regardless of race or gender. The pro-economic grown, pro-family value message is on our side and we are committed to doing a better job communicating that with voters across the country,” she said.
Nichols noted that at least one Republican presidential candidate should know something about attracting black voters. George Romney, Mitt Romney’s father, attracted 30 percent of the black vote in 1966 when he ran for re-election as Michigan’s governor in 1966.