In a report titled “Blacks and the Republican National Convention,” David Bositis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies looks at the dynamics of the GOP relationship with the Black community and how it’s changed over the years.
While the Democratic National Convention visually displays a much more diverse crowd than the RNC, the Joint Center’s report reminds people that Black Republicans aren’t a unique thing despite the low numbers presented. According to Joint Center data, there are 12 Black Republicans in state office, including state legislatures, and 36 Black Republicans in local office across the country. However, according to the Joint Center, things looked more promising for Blacks in the GOP before the 21st century.
“For the GOP, one of the most promising developments of the recent past was the record 24 Black Republican nominees for federal office in 1994 and 2000,” stated the report. “However, since 2000, those numbers have declined, and in 2012–as in 2008–the number of Black Republican nominees for federal office (as tracked by the Joint Center since 1990) could be in record low territory. However, 2012 is the first election since 1996 when there are two Black Republican incumbents seeking re-election to the House of Representatives: Congressmen Tim Scott and Allen West.”
According to the report, Republicans’ share of the Black vote for president of the United States steadily rose from 9 percent to 12 percent between 1984 and 1996. It dipped back to 8 percent in 2000 and jumped back up to 11 percent in 2004. It dropped to 4 percent in 2008. In terms of Republican partisanship among Blacks, it was the highest since the early 1960s among ages 18 to 25 in 2004 at 14.9 percent and among Blacks in general in 2000 at 17.1 percent. Both numbers fell to 7.3 percent and 4.5 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, one recent news report had Mitt Romney polling at zero percent among African-Americans in general.
People like former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, congressional candidate Mia Love and former Democrat-turned-Republican Artur Davis weren’t the only Blacks represented at the RNC. The Joint Center’s report pointed to the delegates present as well. “The 47 Black delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa represent an increase over the 38 in Minneapolis in 2008,” the report stated. “These delegates represent 2.1 percent of the total compared to the 1.6 percent in 2008, but their number is significantly below the record-settinwg 6.6 percent in 2004.
“The 47 Black delegates in 2012 represent a 20.5 percent increase over the 39 delegates at the 2008 RNC in Minneapolis, but a 72 percent decline over the 165 Black delegates at the 2004 convention,” the report continued. “There are 25 Black alternates to the Republican Convention in 2012 compared to 38 in 2008, both down substantially from 124 in 2004.”
The Joint Center points to Romney’s lack of history and experience with African-Americans and said that this makes him a weaker candidate than George W. Bush, who made efforts to reach out to the Black community.
“President Bush, unlike Governor Romney, is from a state–Texas–with a substantial Black population,” said the report. “Also unlike President Bush, Mitt Romney lacks any long-term ties to prominent Black figures like General Colin Powell and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Governor Romney also lacks President Bush’s ability to comfortably weave expressions of faith and religious belief into his campaign’s narrative, something African-Americans can relate to, even in politicians they do not support.”
If Romney wins in November, this is a relationship he must build.