and 2000, published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, whites who belong to the Republican and Democratic parties are less likely to vote for their parties’ nominee if he or she is black — regardless of the candidate’s track record and credentials. Moreover, white Republicans are 25% more likely on average to vote for a Democratic senatorial candidate when the GOP candidate is black.
It’s nearly impossible for any Republican candidate to win without evangelical support given the political might of organizations tied to the religious right. Blackwell, who favors faith-based initiatives and opposes abortion and same-sex marriages, has made successful inroads into that constituency, giving him considerable crossover appeal.
Black candidates don’t have a lock on the African American vote, either. Conservative positions on a range of issues could alienate a number of African American voters unwilling to break with the Democratic Party. “In this day and time, black Republicans are no more capable of getting elected without a black base than Beyoncé winning a Grammy without a black base,” asserts C. Adrienne Rhodes, a Republican candidate for a New York House of Representatives seat in 2000. She maintains the new crop of candidates need a combination of “crossover power” and resources from the GOP.
Rogers, on the other hand, believes candidates could attract African Americans through a faith-based campaign. “The vote of evangelicals is critical, in particular for African American candidates who are Republicans,” he says. “Keep in mind who we are talking about when you mention conservatives. Among African Americans, what you’re really taking about is traditional values. When you ask about the value base that we have as African Americans as a whole, there’s no doubt that our values are based on a strong tradition. Whether [Blackwell] is labeled as a conservative, he is a traditional values person who cuts across lines and has a direct appeal, I think, to African Americans. The same thing is true for Steele in Maryland [and] Swann in Pennsylvania. The question is: Are you willing to cross that divide to vote for a Republican who shares [your] values or are you simply going to maintain your vote as a Democrat because that’s what you’ve always done?”
But some black Republicans have taken extreme measures to ensure African American turnout in the GOP’s favor. Washington-based National Black Republican Association (NBRA) recently ran a controversial 60-second radio spot asserting, among other things, that the Democratic Party gave birth to the Ku Klux Klan and that the revered late civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican. The ad highlights a political discussion between two women with one stating that “Dr. King was a real man. You know he was a Republican.” The spot then makes claims that Democrats “passed black codes and Jim Crow laws, started the Ku Klux Klan, fought all civil rights legislation from the 1860s to the 1960s, and released those vicious dogs and fire hoses on blacks.” The ad also refers to GOP as the party that “freed us