My friend, Coby Dillard, has posted a rather lengthy screed on his Facebook page about the lack of Republican outreach to the black community. My response to him is far too long to post there, even if I wanted to. So here it is.
I believe Coby missed a much larger point in his missive, a point often missed by people who only see race in terms of a black/white issue. I know – I used to make the same mistake myself. The Republican Party doesn’t have a black problem; they have a non-white problem.
Anyone who is not white is dismissed as a potential Republican voter. Voter ID laws that have passed in a number of states weren’t targeted just at black folk, but all minorities. Harsh stances on immigration weren’t targeted at black folk at all.
At 12.6% of the population (pdf), blacks aren’t even the largest minority group any more. Hispanics claim that mantle, with 16.3% of the population – and growing. The Asian population, pegged at 4.8%, was the fastest growing minority group from 2000 to 2010. Most projections put whites in the minority in this country by 2050, but it could be as early as 2019.
According to exit polls, the electorate is less white – 72% – than it was just four years ago – 74%. Blacks made up just 13% of the electorate in both years, so we weren’t responsible for the decrease in the white vote. Hispanics increased from 9% to 10%, and Asians from 2% to 3%.
President Obama received 93% of the black vote, which is actually down from the 95% he received in 2008. But he received 71% of the Hispanic vote, an increase of 4%, and 73% of the Asian vote, an increase of a whopping 11%.
Yes, Mitt Romney received 59% of the white vote, an increase of 4% over that received by John McCain. But if the numbers are true – and exit polling is about all we have to look at – the Republican Party is banking their efforts on a decreasing share of the electoral pie.
Republicans have lost the popular vote in five out of the last six presidential contests. More Democrats voted for Congressional candidates than did Republicans. Only because of gerrymandering* do the Democrats not have control of the House of Representatives.
(And while this post is about race, let’s not forget that women are the majority of the electorate at 53%. And 55% of them voted for Obama. How’s that transvaginal ultrasound thing working out?)
Bottom line: this isn’t just about the black vote. This is about the increasing non-white vote. Until the Republican Party figures out not only how to reach out but also appeal to those voters, they will continue to lose elections.
* – Gerrymandering occurs because the turnout among non-white and younger voters in other than presidential election years is far lower. It’s why Virginia has a Republican governor, a huge Republican majority in the House of Delegates and a 20-20 State Senate. Those are the folks who approved the Congressional lines that made Democratic seats more Democratic and Republican seats more Republican, the result being not a single change in our Congressional delegation, where Republicans enjoy an 8-3 majority. If the 2009 electorate had looked like that of 2008, it is likely that would not have been the case. Here’s hoping the 2013 Virginia electorate looks more that of 2012, which voted for President Obama and Tim Kaine.