Opinion: Why blacks voters reject Romney
October 11th, 2012
12:29 PM ET

Opinion: Why blacks voters reject Romney

Editor's note: Sherrilyn A. Ifill is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law and the chairwoman of the U.S. Programs Board of the Open Society Foundations. She is the author of "On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the Twenty-first Century."

By Sherrilyn A. Ifill, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Mitt Romney's strong debate performance and his apology for his callous remarks deriding 47% of the American public appear to be moving his poll numbers up in some states. But Romney's reinvigorated campaign is unlikely to move black voters.

Black support is at 0%, according to a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (PDF) reported in late summer. The reasons for this may have powerful implications for the future of black political strength in presidential elections.

It's worth recognizing that the unwillingness of black voters to offer any measurable support for the Republican presidential candidate is unprecedented. It's not enough to say that blacks are voting for President Obama because he's black and that racial solidarity trumps politics. Or to note that black voters are overwhelmingly affiliated with the Democratic Party.

Sen. John McCain and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin ran against a considerably more charismatic and untarnished Obama - who was still black in 2008. McCain received 4% of the black vote. Black voters offered measurable levels of support to George W. Bush, 8% in 2000 and 11% in 2004; Ronald Reagan, 11%; and even Richard Nixon, 18%.

One of the reasons African-American voters do not support Romney is that they see the Republican Party's treatment of Obama, from the first weeks of his presidency, as an assault on a kind of racial collective dignity. This includes remarks such as GOP trash-talker John Sununu's description of the first black president of the United States as "lazy" after his poor debate performance.

Read Sherrilyn A. Ifill's full column
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Jason

    The African American vote has been co-opted by the democrats with empty promises and class warfare. Brilliant strategy, but not helpful to the electorate. The fact that the President is black just helped to mobilize more in the African American community and win over that last 10 percent who would have normally voted conservative.

    November 5, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. Dan

    it's amazing how many white people have the audacity to state the only reason blacks vote for Obama is "Because he's Black" How utterly stupid or prejudice can a person be? Here's why your "logic" is shear and utter stupidity and bigotry. There have been five blacks who ran for president; Jessie Jackson 1984, Alan Keys 2004, Julian Bond 1968, Al Sharpton 2004, and Shirley Chilsholm 1972. Not a single one received a higher percentage of the black vote than Barack O'bama and in each case a white president was elected...with a majority black votes squarely falling in the column of the democratic nominee, who by the way was white. So your childish whining is simply over the anomaly that a black guy won the big one, what a psychological dilemma you must find yourselves in each and every day. Oh, the sense of inadequacy, and the never before known, sense of being subordinate. One turn after another you're told you're in danger, have to take back the country, want the country back. as your strings are pulled again & again. And think of the children! Many of them ONLY know Barack Obama as POTUS; and heaven forbid if he gets ANOTHER four years. I'd hate to see that happen 'cause I really believe you'll have an epidemic of heart attacks and mass suicides. That almost makes me want to vote Romney. Well, almost.

    November 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • rc

      Do you have any idea how many black people I have heard say, "I voted for Obama because I wanted to see a black man in the White House."? It's way more than you would hope.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
    • laodegan

      No Dan, it is not "amazing" for people to relay conversations they've had. It is not "audacity" to state the truth.

      What *is* amazing is how many black people have the audacity to state that the reason they voted for Barack Obama was because they wanted a black man as president.

      This is not "reverse racism" or "justifiable racism". It is overt racism that is condoned by the liberal left. You can choose to defend it or condemn it if you like. I simply acknowledge it and move on.

      November 5, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  3. Yzak

    Black's do not support romney simply because he is a mormon. White's should not support romney because he is a Mormon as well, otherwise their support of him is because the Pres in Black. White people, also known around the world as the hybrid race have to support their own to simply to survive. The pres is their worse nightmare in that they see the product of their offspring if they fully integrate among the Black race, or any other race of earth. White folks represent an abnormal gene of man, thus they are man-kind, not quite man! They must be racist towards people of color just to survive as a people. Black folks will eventually take White folks out of the gene pool as time moves forward.

    November 3, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Elliott Carlin

    And the reason they vote 93% for Obama is his position on NAFTA. LOL

    November 3, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elliott Carlin

      By the way, that picture of Ms. Ifill would leave one to believe she's an open-minded person. LOL redux.

      November 3, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Trueguy4ever

    First of all Mitt just said that his idea of reducing the tax rate would not appeal to those who pay no taxes like it would to those who do pay taxes. The left wing media lies about this is what keeps driving this.

    November 3, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ellisz

    Justify it anyway you want, but at the end of the day you are voting for him simply because he's black. If it makes you feel better to blame the idiot Joe Wilson, go for it.

    Personally, I don't like Mr. Obama's policies. I voted for him once, but I won't vote for him again.

    November 3, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. laughing at cnn

    The vote for him because he is black and everyone knows it. Most blacks don't have a clue about what even obama stands for and don't understand it. They see a "brotha" and that's their man! It's sad and pitiful that a race can be so shallow but it won't change the fact that Romney will win.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Herewe Goagain

    The fact that Romney has 0% of African American support is a very good indication that they are voting by skin color.

    November 2, 2012 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. Veronica

    As a Black Woman living in the South, I absolutely HATE being lumped together just because of my skin color. And it happens most often from within my own race. I vote for the candidate I think will be best for the country regardless of political affiliation. I voted early and I *did not* vote for Barack Obama. As a fiscal conservative and a Christian conservative, I cannot in any way justify voting for President Obama again.

    While I am proud of finally having a Black American in the White House, I just don't agree with his policies economically, socially or from a foreign policy perspective. But to ever suggest to another African-American that you would vote for someone other than him is like committing blasphemy. People are appalled that I would actually vote for a Republican, as if my skin color absolutely defines how I must vote.

    My husband and I came from families that pushed education, work ethic and working hard to make a better life for yourself and your children. They came from humble beginnings and we started off better than they did. Now, our children are starting off better than us. We want to continue that cycle.

    I am NOT a part of the 47%.

    I am an Independent and always will be!

    October 31, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ben Ramirez

    Lol they reject him because Barack Obama is half African American and is the best role model they have.. they tie their feelings of importance to him and most would never vote for a white man over him. For those who have a more objective reality it is different.

    October 24, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. Alex2020

    I would like to congratulate Ms. Ifill on her concise evaluation of the rationale held by many black people not to support Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. How many white people would vote for a black person who displayed hostility towards them? Some people understood the message; however some people ignored the legitimate points and regressed into their automatic boo-hoo discussion of their perceptions of black pathologies. How about this, why don’t some of you white folks discuss your own pathologies? Including:
    – Please, enlighten us as to your rationale for blaming President Obama for your poor judgment by voting for George Bush who brought this country to its knees.

    – Please enlighten us as to why white men feel that if a person is wealthy, the wealth is equivalent to superior genes. Men like Mitt Romney and his five adult sons do not serve in the military. They leave the task to the 47% who don’t mind jumping in front of a bullet so that their MASTERS SUCH AS MITT and his cohorts (i.e., Donald Trump) can focus on making generational wealth for their families at the expense of the American Middle Class.
    So all you white guys blinded by hate of the boogie-black man, don’t worry, they are not interested in you. I would concentrate on Mitt as he needs your vote and will say anything to get elected. Mitt warned you and if he is elected, he will ensure that you experience the wrath of his distain because of your stupidity so all you deadbeat freeloading (Mitt’s words) 47%’ers, Mitt has something for you…misery.

    October 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobbaft

      McCain served in the military and almost died for this country...and they didn't for him either.

      The majority of black aka african-americans I speak to vote for Barrack BECAUSE he's black. They could care less about his politics and views...they just want to feel they're making headway in the race battle...

      Black vs white will always exist....Democrats vs Republicans will only make it worse. This country and its politics are broken...we need it fixed.

      Do away with the parties. Vote the best man into the position for 4 years. No re-elections.

      November 3, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trueguy4ever

      Prove Mitt said deadbeat freeloading. I know you can't.

      November 3, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |