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Why Do Blacks Hate Dubya?
George W. Bush's strenuous efforts at "minority outreach" were rewarded by the lowest fraction of the black vote since Barry Goldwater. Depending on which exit poll you consult, Dubya carried between 8% and 10% of African-American voters. Since Election Day, the Democrats and the press have gleefully been asking Republicans: "How are you going to stop doing so shamefully badly among blacks?" For them, it's as much fun as asking: "Have you stopped beating your wife?"
Strikingly, Republicans seem to agree that there is something illegitimate about their victories unless a larger fraction of the "black community" gives its blessing. Consider the January 10th Wall Street Journal column hyping the Martin Luther King Day wingding at the Heritage Institute on "How the new administration can reach out to black America." Gerald F. Seib gave a revealing example of what he sees as the GOP's need to win more black votes:
"In three states -- Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana -- more than half of Al Gore's total votes came from blacks. Yet he lost all three because the white vote went heavily for Mr. Bush."
Hmmhmmh … Maybe I'm missing something, Mr. Seib, but wouldn't the Republican sweep of those three states be a problem for Democrats, not Republicans?
Republicans have been furiously scratching their heads over how to draw more black votes. For example, when I started reading the Free Republic responses to my VDARE article (GOP Future Depends on Winning Larger Share of the White Vote), I presumed that many of the attacks on my thesis would center on the alleged inevitability of immigration population. Yet, most respondents seemed bored with thinking about immigrants. What everybody wanted to talk about was why blacks didn't vote Republican.
- First thing to remember: despite all the moral glamour that our society invests in "civil rights leaders" like Jesse Jackson, African-Americans are neither a fast-growing group nor even a terribly large one. No pundit should be allowed to expound on election strategy without first proving he knows the answer to this simple question:
Q. Which would have increased Bush's popular vote total more?
1. Tripling his share of the black vote from 10% to 30%.
2. Increasing his share of the white vote from 54% to merely 57%.
A. #2. This seemingly tiny gain among whites would have done Bush more good. Because African-Americans make up 10% of voters, tripling his share would have netted him 2.0 percentage points more votes. In contrast, whites cast 81% of the vote, so 3% of 81% would represent 2.43 percentage points more votes.
- Second thing to remember: blacks have perfectly good reasons for voting Democratic. Republicans seem to assume that they could get their laissez-faire messages across to blacks if they just keep repeating it very loudly and slowly. The funniest example of this came from Seib's column. In it, he endorses a black Republican who suggested that "working-class minorities are deeply concerned about building retirement savings and passing on assets to their children, meaning that Bush appeals to eliminate the estate tax and reform Social Security should resonate with them."
"Eliminate the estate tax"?
Double Hmmhmmh …So, Mr. Seib, why exactly didn't Dubya's plan to eliminate the inheritance tax "resonate" with blacks on Nov. 7? Could it possibly be that African-Americans, on average, have a rational reason for voting for Democrats who want to keep the inheritance tax? Is it possible that on average blacks tend to have slightly smaller estates than the subscribers to The Wall Street Journal?
- Third thing to remember: even though the reasons most blacks don't vote Republican are perfectly obvious, it is definitely worth investigating in detail why Dubya did worse than his GOP predecessors.
Republicans can't understand why this happened. After all, didn't Dubya outreach to minorities like crazy? For example,
- Didn't Dubya speak Spanish all the time?
- Didn't he boast about how many Mexican-American votes he got in Texas?
- Didn't he talk about how "family values don't stop at the Rio Grande"?
- Didn't he send his half-Mexican nephew George P. Bush out to campaign for him?
- Didn't "P" tell a Spanish-speaking audience at the Republican convention about how his Mexican-born mother, the wife of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, instilled in him the values of Cesar Chavez and "told me we have to fight for our race ..."
"Gosh," Republicans keep asking themselves, "How come African-Americans didn't appreciate all these pro-minority gestures?"
Well … because African-Americans aren't Mexicans. They aren't Central Americans. They aren't Cubans. And they sure aren't immigrants.
Blacks and Hispanics have radically different interests. Immigrants drive blacks out of blue-collar jobs and drive down wages in general. They are shoving blacks from political power across Southern California. Amusingly, Democratic Congressgorgon Maxine Waters now represents a district that has a Hispanic majority. African-Americans have been fleeing L.A. and Cuban-run Miami for black-run Atlanta.
Riots provide an acid test of assumptions about minority solidarity.
- Miami's African-Americans repeatedly rioted against the city's Hispanic-dominated police force during the Eighties.
- The 1991 riot in Washington D.C.'s Mt. Pleasant district began when drunken Salvadoran men resisted the dishonor of being arrested by a black woman police officer. Although the immigrants began the rioting, African-American youth quickly poured into the neighborhood and looted immigrant stores. Mayor Marion Barry's black-run police force showed up, but largely sat in their cruisers, enjoying the spectacle of black kids destroying a Hispanic neighborhood.
- During the L.A. riot of 1992, Mexican criminal gangs patrolled the streets of East L.A. to prevent black rioters from looting their neighborhood.
- Dubya chose first and foremost to pander to Hispanics, not blacks. In turn, African-Americans punished him for being biased toward their rivals. In the states where Dubya's Hispanic strategy worked best -- Florida and Texas -- his share of the black vote was abysmal. Here are the data from the Voter News Service exit polls:
- Dubya won 49% of the Hispanic vote (and 57% of the white vote) in Jeb's Florida, but a crummy 7% of the black vote.
- Less publicized is the remarkable fact that in Dubya's home state of Texas -- where he pulled in 43% of the Hispanic vote (and a tremendous 73% of the white vote) -- Dubya garnered a truly stinking 5% from blacks.
It's instructive to compare conservative Texas to liberal California. There, according to local media legends, former Republican governor Pete Wilson conducted human sacrifices of illegal aliens or something like that. In the Golden State, Dubya took only 29% of the Hispanic vote (and a lousy 48% of the white vote). Yet, he did more than twice as well among blacks (11%) as in his home state.
In other words, in Texas, where the Republican Party is reputed to be pro-Mexican, Dubya did only about 1/15th as well among blacks as among whites. But in California, where the GOP has a reputation as anti-Mexican, Dubya did almost a whole 1/4th as well among blacks as among whites.
So, here's the Republican dilemma regarding minorities:
- The only clear way for Republicans to do better with African-Americans is to campaign against Hispanic immigration.
- Dubya ran an almost state-of-the-art campaign of multiculturalist identity politics campaign aimed at Hispanics. Yet, he still did worse among Hispanics by pandering to them than Ronald Reagan did by talking to them about patriotism. Dubya's mediocre showing with Hispanics in Texas is just about all the GOP has to show for their minority outreach program.
Perhaps Mexican-Americans in the rest of the country will come to tolerate President Dubya to the same degree as those in Texas got along with Governor Dubya.
On the other hand, it's possible that Texas' Mexican-Americans differ culturally and even racially from California's Mexican-Americans. The Texans tend to be from the same Northeastern Mexico culture that provides the main constituency of Vincente Fox's GOP-like PAN party. In contrast, California's immigrants increasingly come from the center of Mexico, where the corrupt PRI and the leftist PRD dominate, and the far South, where Subcommandante Marcos' Marxist guerillas control part of Chiapas.
Mexican immigrants are increasingly coming from the impoverished South. So the future for the GOP looks bleak.
As we've seen since Nov. 7, the Republicans have gained next to no kudos from winning 35% of the Hispanic vote. And winning it cost them a sizable fraction of even the few black votes they'd normally get. In America's game of moral one-upmanship, Hispanic support is far less sexy than black support. (Although it's more glamorous than Asian support.) For better or worse, African-Americans remain lodged in the public imagination as America's "real minority."
In short, Dubya's "diversity" strategy has proven to be - at best - a zero sum game.
January 22, 2001