Why Do Blacks Vote for Democrats? Inclusion and Diversity.

{This is the second in the series, “Why do Blacks for Democrats?” The other two posts on this subject are:
• Why Do Blacks Vote for Democrats? See Jesse Helms.
• Why Do Blacks Vote for Democrats? MLK, JFK, and LBJ.}

Why do African Americans vote overwhelmingly for Democrats over Republicans? One reason is that the Democratic Party is representative of the America that black people see, and the Republican Party isn’t.

This is illustrated by the following two photographs. The first shows the early field of Republicans candidates for the 2008 Presidential election. The second shows the early field of Democratic candidates.

Republican Candidates for President, 2008 (not in order): California Rep. Duncan Hunter, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain

Democratic Candidates for President, 2008: former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Sen. Joe Biden of Deleware, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio

The Republican candidates are all white males. The Democratic candidates include a white woman, a black male, a Hispanic male, and five other white males.

Other examples of Democratic diversity, and Republican non-diversity, abound.

In the House of Representatives, there are 236 Democrats. Of those, 41 are African American. In addition, there are two African American non-voting members of the House, representing the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

There are 199 Republicans in the House. None are African American.

In the Senate, there are 49 Democrats; one, Barack Obama of Illinois, is African American. There are 49 Republican senators; none is black. There are also two independants in the Senate, both white.

As noted by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, 46 cities with a population of over 50,000 have a black mayor; none of them is a Republican. (At least one of these mayors, Jay Williams of Youngstown, Ohio, is an independent.)

Another Joint Center report states that “Democrats dominate among African Americans serving in the state legislatures. There are 622 black state legislators among whom only ten are Republicans. In state Senates, there are 155 black Democrats and three black Republicans. In state Houses (and assemblies), there are 485 black Democrats and seven black Republicans.”

And consider African American representation at Democratic and Republican conventions. As noted in the previously cited Joint Center report, in 2004, blacks were 20.1% of Democratic Convention delegates, versus 20.1% in 2000 and 21.0% in 1996. For this year’s convention, it is expected that African Americans will comprise 24.1%. of the delegates.

At the 2004 Republican National Convention, African Americans were 6.7 percent of the delegates, compared to 4.1 percent in 2000 and only 2.6 percent in 1996. At this year’s Republican Convention, only 1.5% of the delegates to this week’s Republican National Convention were African American.

To all outward appearances, the Democratic Party is the party of all people, while the Republican Party is the party of white people. And that in and of itself might be a deterrent to black folks who might otherwise be willing to consider joining the party, or just be curious enough to see what the Republicans are about and where they stand on the issues.

All of this presents the Republicans with a chicken and the egg problem. How can they attract blacks to their party, when one of their unattractive traits… is that they’ve previously been unable to attract blacks to their party? Their recent history works against them. Their ability to deal with that problem will determine if they can achieve future success in getting the support of African Americans.

For some great images of diversity from the Democratic National Convention, refer to this great post at DailyKos.com, The Audacity of Denver.

One thought on “Why Do Blacks Vote for Democrats? Inclusion and Diversity.

  1. These numbers are very useful. But, the larger picture is, why did all these blacks become Democrats in the beginning? The Dem. Party offers a much more inclusive message about sharing power in the United States. Additionally, the programs and policies it supports are (generally) seen as in the best interest of black Americans. Once blacks decided to become Democrats, a natural cycle developed in which Democratic policies became mostly (pro-) black because black Democrats helped write said policies.

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