African American voters haven’t thrown much support behind Republican candidates, despite Republican officials claim that they are the party of Abraham Lincoln — who helped end slavery — and the National Black Republican Association, which controversially says that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican.
As the Republican National Convention swings into gear this week, it will do so with just 36 black delegates, the lowest total in 40 years for an RNC, according to a recent report by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. These delegates represent 1.5% of the total number of delegates, substantially below the record setting 6.7% in 2004.
“The significance of the black vote for the Republican Party is really the mirror-image of its significance for
the Democratic Party,” writes David Bostis in his report. “The significance of the Black vote for the Democratic Party cannot be overestimated. In 2004, according to the exit polls, the black contribution to Senator Kerry’s vote was 22.1% of Gore’s total in 2000. This indicates that in 2004 approximately one in every 4.5 Senator Kerry voters were African Americans.”
With so few delegates, is the Barack Obama factor having an effect on turnout in Minneapolis? There is anecodotal evidence that some Republican African Americans are voting for Obama because he is Black. A Chicago Sun-Times columnist even interviewed someone who has been a member of the GOP since 2003, after defecting from the Democratic Party. Andre T. Hammel, a 26-year-old recent law school graduate attended the Democratic National Convention and plans to vote for Obama partly because, “I respect his choice of [Joe Biden] as VP. Some politicians are afraid to pick someone who is more seasoned, but Obama has the humility to bring people on board. He’s not intimidated,” Hammel said in the Sun-Times.
According to Joint Center data, there are 14 black Republicans in state office (including state legislatures)
and 40 black Republicans holding elected offices. There are about 10,000 black elected officials in the U.S. However, a majority of elected offices are nonpartisan. It remains to be seen whether Obama will have a long- or short-term affect on the data.
Deborah Creighton Skinner is the editorial director for BlackEnterprise.com.