believe that Barack Obama is the person to do that.”
Whether or not Obama can court other black Republicans may depend on McCain’s effectiveness in reaching out to that group, says Crenshaw. “The Republican National Committee has consistently failed to make a long-term, funded commitment to community outreach and black candidate cultivation,” he says.
In other words, Scoggins adds, “Many of us are asking what the party has done to earn our loyalty.”
Regardless of how the 2008 presidential contest wraps up, black Republicans agree that African American interest in their party is growing. According to the African American Republican Leadership Council, 14% of black voters vote Republican. Some black Democrats are surprised to learn tidbits of black Republican history, such as that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican, says Rice. When they start to listen, “some turn away from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, and some become Independents.”
Scoggins goes so far as to say that the increased interest among black Americans in the political process, thanks to Obama’s candidacy, provides an opportunity for black Republicans to court more African Americans once the 2008 presidential election season ends. Disillusionment with the divisive campaign run by Sen. Hillary Clinton may also prompt some black Democrats to question their party’s allegiance to black voters. “This may lead some to see that the Democrats aren’t necessarily their sole friends,” says Scoggins.
Whatever black voters decide in November, Rice urges Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike to look beyond just a shared cultural heritage: “What we have to do is adhere to the admonition that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left us with—to judge a person by the content of their character, and not the color of their skin.”