Where Did GOP Blacks Go?

Charles D. Ellison | 3/15/2012, 2:20 p.m.

In contrast, Latino voters only lean 60 percent Democrat on average. In key primary states like Florida and Arizona, they represent 12 percent of the Republican primary electorate -- a significant presence that warrants the attention of campaign strategists battling for every vote they can get. And a recent Cooperative Congressional Election Survey found 14 percent identified as Republican and a significant bloc, 19 percent, identified as "Independent."

It's that 19 percent that gives Republicans reason to believe they can compete for Latino votes in the general election against Barack Obama, despite recent anti-immigration rhetoric and legislation. The survey also found Latinos are more inclined to vote by race than party. With scores more Latino Republican elected officials than Black, Republican elected officials (there are no Black, Republican elected officials under the age of 40), the GOP figures it has a better chance chasing after Brown votes than Black ones.

Political strategist and former congressional candidate Princella Smith argues that because African Americans vote "lopsidedly Democrat -- 80 percent to 90percent of the time," the Republican Party fails to see any prospect of a return on the investment. "Why should I campaign to a community who will reject me as soon as I get to the front door?"

Ron Thomas, a Black Republican and former senior advisor to Rep. Michelle Bachmann's, R-Minn., failed presidential bid, agrees, quickly arguing that the GOP's enthusiastic focus on Latino voters should be something for Black Republicans and African Americans in general to worry about. "I have a bottom line philosophy: You have to have tensions on both sides of the aisle. We're the only culture where we don't make the political parties compete for our vote. Until we decide as a people that we're going to do that, we're going to stay in the same situation we're in right now." (Mr. Ellison is managing editor of Politic365.com.)