The White Romney Vote: Based on Race?

Blacks are accused of backing Obama out of racial loyalty, but white GOP voters get a pass.

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

(The Root) — Little about the GOP candidate appeared to qualify him for the White House as he sweated freely over foreign-policy debate questions Monday night. Clearly ill-suited to be commander in chief, Mitt Romney fidgeted in his chair, fudged his Afghanistan position and, in the cross talk over Iraq, seemed on the verge of proffering another $10,000 bet on whether his position had changed.   

Despite losing two of three debates, Romney has going for him a poll-obsessed media keen on a close race sustaining their $2.5 billion flow of TV ads. Plus, he can count on reflexive support from the dominant population backing his party. And what exactly is the makeup of the GOP?

Alas, in this year of our Lord 2012, the Republican Party structurally is 97.9 percent non-African American, fielding only 47 blacks among the 4,411 delegates at its Tampa convention! 

With blacks constituting some 13 percent of the electorate, the GOP, win or lose, is likely to register a popular vote that is 99.5 percent non-African American. And this near lily-white party operates in a diverse republic — with a black president, who attracted 43 percent of the white vote in ’08. 

The pattern is no accident, for the GOP has been heading this way since President Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act, reconfirming blacks’ right to vote as granted by the 15th Amendment 95 years earlier. Repeatedly, blacks are called upon to explain why, other than because of his race, they would vote for Obama (after 128 years of voting for white presidents, including many avowed racists).

Indeed, blacks support President Obama for similar reasons to those stated in the New Yorker magazine’s endorsement: “[He] has achieved a run of ambitious legislative, social and foreign-policy successes that relieved a large measure of the human suffering and national shame inflicted by the Bush Administration. Obama has renewed the honor of the office he holds.”

That he happens to be African American, of course, is an added value of pride for African Americans.

Seldom, if ever, are whites queried about voting for the candidate of a predominantly white party, who is so shameless a panderer that even ranking party officials are knocked into a quandary over what exactly he believes. So the question arises:

Are whites voting against Obama chiefly because he’s black?

The shifty Romney campaign has driven some party loyalists to appeal to the baser instincts of race, especially among the undecided. “Romney is not the perfect candidate,” declared Rush Limbaugh, the GOP mouthpiece. “This election isn’t about him. He may as well be Elmer Fudd as far as [Republicans] are concerned.