Black Voters Will Help Re-Elect Obama
African Americans made up just 10 percent of the electorate in the midterms. But they'll come back strong in 2012, a voting expert predicts.
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
DB: In my experience, the types of Republicans who traditionally appeal to black voters are business Republicans. I did a survey of African-American professionals for Fortune magazine in the '90s, and they all wanted to own their own business. They didn't want to work for somebody else. They all had very positive attitudes and feelings about business, and I suspect that is a large part of what support Whitman and Fiorina, who was the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, got from African Americans in California.
TR: Looking forward, what lessons can we learn to ensure that we get a healthy black turnout in 2012?
DB: I think there was a strong effort made to get out the black vote in many places this year. And I think that's because people wanted to support Obama. What's good about 2012 is that Obama's going to be on the ticket -- contrary to what that guy Doug Schoen wrote.
TR: So you would consider 2010 a success in terms of getting out the black vote?
DB: On balance, yes, I would. Here's the thing: The black vote is not going to carry elections by itself. As my paper says, there was an extraordinary turnout for a candidate like [Illinois Senate candidate] Alexi Giannoulias. But Illinois' population is only about 15 percent black, and that 15 percent isn't going to be dictating to the rest of the population of Illinois. So whoever runs does have to get support from enough white voters.
TR: You said that you think Obama is going to be on the ballot in 2012. How do you think he'll fare with black voters?
DB: I'm sure he'll get the same black vote he got in 2008.
TR: And how about with voters in general?
DB: I think he'll win. I definitely think he's the favorite, and the Republicans still don't have anybody. Who are they going to run? Sarah Palin? Get serious.
TR: Polls predict that Obama would beat Palin badly if she ran.
DB: Of course! The problem for the GOP is that that's pretty much true of all the Republicans. [Mitt] Romney is a Mormon. There are many things I like about the Mormons, but in one respect they are arguably a cult. The simple truth is that outsiders don't get to see what's happening in their services. Romney's in-laws did not get to attend their daughter's wedding because they aren't Mormon. Just think about that. He's also a totally empty suit. He may very well be a smart person and sincere, but he's an empty suit.
And [Mike] Huckabee? The last thing the Republican Party needs to [do is] remind the rest of the country that [it] is a Southern party. Newt Gingrich would also lose because he's a thoroughly despicable person. We're supposed to believe Gingrich is going to be president? Can you imagine having to live with [him] as president for four years? The entitlement problem would go away because half the people in the country would blow their brains out.
TR: So Obama wins?
DB: The Republicans have some people who could be sensible opponents -- say, [Indiana Gov.] Mitch Daniels -- but many of them are in the House. And the last time a member of the House was elected president was in the 1840s. So all these clowns in the House who say, "Well, I'm thinking of running for president!" -- yeah, right!
Cord Jefferson is The Root's Washington correspondent.