This is an archive of the old Stones Cry Out site. For the current site, click here.

« Setting the Record Straight | Main | Political Fallout for Opposing Alito »

November 17, 2005

African-Americans and the GOP; Changes Coming?

We may have a sign that the tide of African-American voting patterns may indeed be changing. But first, a look at where we are now.

Bush's poll numbers among blacks have plummeted. Dan Froomkin noted in October:

In what may turn out to be one of the biggest free-falls in the history of presidential polling, President Bush's job-approval rating among African Americans has dropped to 2 percent, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

However, Froomkin himself, likely unwittingly, demonstrates why I think very little of polls. Too many of them are simply a measure of emotion, not philosophy or policy.
A few months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Bush's approval rating among blacks at 51 percent. As recently as six months ago, it was at 19 percent.

But Bush's bungled response to Hurricane Katrina -- seen by many blacks as evidence that he didn't care about them (see my September 13 column ) -- may have brought support for the president in the African American community down to nearly negligible levels.

Polls after 9/11 were as much or more a measure of personal patriotism than support for the President's policies. Similarly, polls after Katrina reflect emotion and horrible circumstances. A big reason many blacks saw the Katrina response as "evidence" was because that's how the media portrayed it. When all local and state officials (primarily Democrat) focused on Washington, the media followed along. Froomkin himself is still apparently considering Bush the prime bungler, and thus perpetuating the meme that FEMA is somehow a first-responder. So again, the polls are measuring feeling and emotion (often related to how news stories are couched) more so than philosophy or policy

Which brings us to today's Orlando Sentinel. Scott Maxwell's column has this startling revelation.

For decades, Republicans have struggled to reach out to black Americans. But now in Orange County, the GOP has to reach no further than the NAACP.

As of this week, Derrick Wallace, head of Orange County's NAACP, has switched parties -- to become a Republican.

"I've thought about this for two years," Wallace said Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours after returning from the elections office. "This is not a decision I made yesterday."

It is, however, a decision that rang out like a shot among political circles.

This is not a measure of emotion, this is a carefully considered switch made over the course of two years. In those 2 years we've had the Iraq war issues, the "BUSH LIED" meme, and Katrina, and still this leader of the African-American community in Orange County has decided to cast his lot with the Republicans. According to the article, this change is partially business-related and partially image-related. But part of it is policy related. Wallace has supported Republicans for Mayor of Orlando the last two times.

Is this a sign of a turnaround, or a just a historic one-off? Hard to say. But just a word of advice to Mr. Wallace; according to some, you're now a fair target of racist remarks. Hang in there.

Posted by Doug at November 17, 2005 10:39 AM

Trackback Pings