Bush`s] standing invitation to judge his heart
shows a man of genuine compassion. But words are
not enough. The fact remains that in the period
Bush has been talking this talk, he`s not been
walking the walk - not as far the African
American community is concerned. In fact, Bush
conducted himself in a way that has apparently
eroded his standing among the ethnic group with
the greatest claim on the American conscience.
Bush got only 8 percent of the black vote in the
recent election. That was a bit poorer than what
Ronald Reagan got in 1984. He did worse than Bob
Dole and worse than his father… But Bush had
sought to become a new kind of GOP presidential
candidate. He was not going to write off black
America. He not only featured speeches by
Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell at the
convention, but no black child in America was
safe from his photo-op hugs. The effort produced
what could only be called a magisterial rebuff.
to win more minority votes, using
Democratic-style multiculturalist campaign
appeals, President George W. Bush has been
widely commended. For failing to win them (only
8% of his votes came from minorities), he has
been widely condemned … often by the same
commentators. Since the election, Dubya and his
nominees like John Ashcroft have been subject
nonstop to questioning along the lines of
"Have you stopped whipping your slaves
brought this on himself and his party. By
pinning a big "I Care" button on his
breast, Dubya automatically pinned an even
bigger "Kick Me" sign on his butt. By
campaigning on a theme that said, in effect,
"I`m a new kind of Republican - I`m not a
racist!" Dubya has only called down
ferocious attacks upon his party. In contrast,
Ronald Reagan radiated benign neglect and
insouciance on the subject of his appeal - or
lack thereof - to minority voters, leaving his
enemies to gnash their teeth in impotent rage.
(And, by the way, Reagan did just as well, if
not better, than Dubya did with minority
obsession with minority votes has lead to some
strange behavior. Fearing a backlash among
minority voters, Republican politicians have
fled in horror from the vote winning issues
embodied in three recent successful California
tough on illegal aliens;
Republicans concoct hare-brained schemes like
Newt Gingrich`s attempt to grant statehood to
Puerto Rico in order to win over the fast
growing Mexican immigrant population. Since
Republicans don`t know much about minorities,
nobody told Newt that Puerto Ricans aren`t
immigrants, aren`t fast-growing, and
aren`t Mexicans. Republicans tend to feel
that "minorities is minorities."
If you do something nice for one group,
they`ll all appreciate the gesture.
To get out
of this trap, it`s crucial for Republicans to
understand the fundamental fact of racial
politics as it`s currently played out in
national elections: at present, minority votes
just don`t matter much one way or another for
are just not all that numerous (making up only
19% of voters in 2000).
are radically divided along racial lines.
Appealing to one group tends to lower your vote
totals among at least one, if not both, of the
other major races. For example, campaigning
heartily for Hispanic votes alienates blacks
who are losing jobs to immigrants. Or,
acquiescing in quotas to please blacks (and to a
lesser extent Hispanics) annoys Asian parents
who want to get their kids into Berkeley.
racial groups are further subdivided along lines
of nationality, class, generation, and ideology,
such that most issues turn out to be roughly
zero-sum games for the GOP. For example, most
Hispanics support bilingual education, but about
35% vote against it in Ron Unz`s initiatives.
Further, the "Asian" vote is in fact
the math comparing the results of Bush`s
strategy to Bob Dole`s in 1996 Dole didn`t mount
the same sort of minority-sensitive campaign.
Bob Dole doesn`t do "sensitive."
example, Bush drew 35% of the Hispanic vote.
Dole got only 21%. However, it`s not reasonable
to say that Bush`s Hispanic-oriented campaigned
netted him 14 percentage points more Hispanics.
The analytical problem is that Dubya did 7.2
percentage points better overall than Dole
(47.9% vs. 40.7%). Dole did worse because Ross
Perot`s respectable third party showing of 8.4%
dragged him down.
1996 Bob Dole was approximately 112 years old
and his campaign sorely needed some political
Viagra. So the change in Hispanic votes from
1996 to 2000 needs to be adjusted somehow so we
can compare the effects of strategies rather
The way I`m
going to concoct a more apples-to-apples
comparison of 1996 to 2000 is to add Dole`s and
Perot`s exit poll numbers together. This creates
a putative Right-Center coalition that together
netted 49.1% in 1996, just 1.2 percentage points
greater than Dubya`s numbers. For purposes of
creating a 1996 baseline for analyzing Dubya`s
performance in 2000, it`s fairly reasonable to
lump Perot`s votes with Dole`s. Perot`s appeal
was always greatest to those in the
right-center. In 2000, Dubya beat Al Gore
64%-27% among those who had voted for Perot in
1996. Similarly, in 1996, Bill Clinton had won
only 22% of those who had voted for Perot in
1992. Finally, Perot always had a tin ear
regarding minorities. Recall how he got razzed
at the 1992 NAACP convention for referring to
the delegates as "you people," then
freaked out and went into seclusion for months.
Dole, Perot, and Dubya all did almost equally
poorly with nonwhite voters. Dole received got
93% of his votes from whites, Perot 90%, and
Dubya came in right between the two. (The 1996
Voter News Service exit poll and the 2000
exit poll are on CNN.com. Also, anyone
looking for important data and solid sense on
this topic needs to read "How
Republicans Can Approach The Minority
Vote," by Adam C. Kolasinski on David
feel free to come up with your own analytical
system. I strongly doubt that your results will
look much different from mine.
In 1996, Dole (21%) and Perot (6%) combined to
win 27% of the Hispanic vote. Dubya won 35%, for
a pickup of 8 percentage points. In 2000,
Hispanics cast 7% of the vote. So, 8% times 7%
is 0.56%. In other words, Dubya`s improved
appeal to Hispanics added 0.56% to his national
popular vote total.
won 12% and Perot 4% of the 1996 black vote, for
a total of 16%. Dubya garnered only 10% of their
votes, for a net loss of 6 percentage points.
Blacks cast 10% of the 2000 votes. So Dubya`s
lack of appeal to blacks relative to the 1996
baseline cost him 0.60% of the national vote.
Dole (48%) and Perot (8%) combined to win 56% of the Asian vote. (By
the way, in 1992 Dubya`s Dad won 55% and Perot
15% of the Asians, for a Right-Center Asian
share of 70%.) How times have changed: Dubya
took only 41%. Since Asians accounted for 2% of
the total vote in 2000, Dubya`s 15 percentage
point loss relative to 1996 cost him 0.30% of
the total vote.
and/or Muslims: Dubya
used some precious airtime during the second
Presidential debate to say he would ease
anti-terrorist policies that impact Arabs and
Muslims more than others. This delighted some of
the Arab-American and Muslim-American
leadership. Still, their endorsements didn`t do
him enough good to help him win Michigan, the
most Arab state in the country. And Michigan`s
Lebanese-American Sen. Spencer Abraham went down
in flames, so Dubya game him the Energy
Department. Let`s take a wild guess and say that
Dubya picked up 0.2% from these groups.
it all add up to? I come up with Dubya losing
0.14% of the minority vote versus what he would
have gotten if he had run an old-fashioned
Republican campaign. Your guess may vary. But
I`m confident that it wouldn`t vary all that
much from my conclusion that - from the point of
view of winning minority votes - Dubya`s
multiculturalist campaign turned out to be a lot
of sound and fury signifying next to nothing.
Dubya`s diversity strategy only makes sense as
an appeal to those whites (especially white
women) who want to be seen as racially
sensitive. In effect, the President is saying,
"Hey, I`m not a racist! Look at all these
minorities who voted for me! I got a majority of
Arabs and Muslims, 41% of Asians, 35% of Hispanics, and
… uh, 10% of blacks."
President`s problem is obvious. This list is the
reverse of what he needs to raise his stock
among these "nice" whites who want to
feel morally superior to not-nice whites.
Dubya`s emphasis on diversity just highlights
the facts that:
black race, which, indeed, does have "the
greatest claim on the American conscience,"
despises him. Further, they show no evidence
that they will ever vote in substantial numbers
for the GOP. Nor can anyone think of a plausible
reason why it would be in their self-interest to
Asians and mestizo Hispanics - who garner white
sympathy for being nonwhite, but also lose it
for often having chosen to come to America,
warts and all - dislike Dubya. Of these two, the
group that the GOP may have the best shot at
taking - East Asians - is increasingly treated
by the press as not a "real minority."
Caucasian immigrant Arabs and Muslims - who,
rightly or wrongly, are routinely stereotyped by
Hollywood as terrorists and hotheads - think Mr.
Bush is just fine.
it`s hard to think of a way the President
could make his ethnic strategy even more
unappealing – except possibly announcing that
the French love him even more than they love
January 29, 2001