Poll Pegs Black Support for Romney at Zero Percent
Pollwatchers nation-wide did a double-take Tuesday after reports of an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey pegged African American support for that Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney at 0 percent, versus 94 percent for Pres. Barack Obama. The telephone survey queried 1000 registered voters and included about 110 black respondents. Romney also trailed Obama with among women, Hispanics and voters under 35. The full results can be found at - msnbcmedia.
The goose-egg was the most eye-catching result; otherwise the survey's conclusion that the Obama and Romney are locked in a statistical dead heat was consistent with other polls, as the chart below shows. The margin of error for the sample is plus or minus 3.1 percent, so Romney's support may not be far off from the 5 percent of the black vote that John McCain pulled in 2008.
Any poll is just a momentary snapshot of voter sentiment with limited predictive value, and polls of registered voters carry less weight than polls of likely voters.
And Romney does have African American supporters, such as Town Hall columnist Crystal Wright, aka Conservative Black Chick. Wright thought that Romney's "heartfelt" speech before the NAACP earlier this summer, which emphasized his pro-market policies on education, health care and economic revitalization, "will go a long way toward earning respect from black liberals."
"Romney made a smart move in recognizing the ongoing economic and equality disparities plaguing blacks. He then told the crowd why they should vote for him. Without directly linking Obama’s name to the dire straights blacks find themselves in under his failed policies, Romney noted black unemployment rose in June from 13.6% to 14.4% and is almost twice the national average. While blacks represent 17% of public school students, Romney said 42% of blacks are trapped in failing schools."
Still, there's no denying that former Gov. Romney is not catching on with black voters, and that can be a problem in a close election, as this one is expected to be. In fact, a July 2012 study by the National Urban League and Joint Center for Political Studies found that black voter turnout could decide the presidential election.
Zerlina Maxwell of the New York Daily News notes that while black voters have given their overwhelming suppport to Democrats for decades, past GOP candidates before 2008 have managed to snag at least 10 percent of the black vote. According to Maxwell, the party of Lincoln has alienated black voters with policies and rhetoric that seem tinged with racial animus, and candidate Romney hasn't bucked the trend:
"When Newt Gingrich calls the first black President “the food stamp President,” black people hear that. When Donald Trump proclaims that Obama isn’t an American citizen or that he only got into Harvard Law School because his skin is brown, black people hear that. When Romney runs blatantly false attacks on welfare reminiscent of the “welfare queen” rhetoric of the 1990s, black people hear that. When Romney tells a fundraiser of majority white supporters in Montana that an NAACP audience booed him because they want “more stuff from the government,” black people can hear that."
If Maxwell were writing her column today (August 24), she'd probably add Romney's quip that, "No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate," uttered at a Michigan campaign stop today. Blogger AngryBlack Lady is having none of it.
"Mitt Romney has pandered to and courted Birthers. (Donald Trump, anyone?) Mitt Romney is currently running dog whistle ads that accuse President Obama of gutting the welfare work requirement, despite the ads having been condemned as false by anyone with two brain cells to rub together."
AngryBlackLady recommends Baratunde Thurston's 2011 video commentary on the birther controversy for those who don't understand "how deeply painful [the birther controversy] is for many black Americans."