Does He Make You Want to Be a Republican?

One of the supposed appeals of having Michael Steele as chairman of the Republican National Committee was that he would be a beacon of diversity to minorities interested in joining the Republican Party.

OK, here’s the question. How many African Americans have decided to become Republicans because of this guy?

225px-Michael_Steele
Michael Steele, Republican National Committee

Seriously. Do you know any blacks who’ve been inspired to become a Republican due to the Steele’s chairmanship of the Republican Party?

The Color of the Young Vote, 2008

In the previous blog entry, we mentioned that Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, expressed his desire to see more people of color represented within the Republican Party. Steele made this statement at a meeting of Florida Republicans. At the same meeting, Jim Greer, Florida’s party chairman, said that the party would focus on using technology to invigorate younger Republicans.

The folowing charts help to explain why Republicans might be concerned about ethnic and age diversity within their party. These are from the Young Voters in the 2008 Presidential Election Fact Sheet, which was prepared by CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

This first chart is not elegant aesthetically, but it makes a powerful point about the ethnic make-up of voters in the November elections. The chart shows the ethnicity of the electorate, broken-out by different age groups.

electorate-by-age-group-2008
Source: Young Voters in the 2008 Presidential Election Fact Sheet

I know this is redundant, but let me go over the numbers on the above chart:
• For voters who are 60 years old or more, the ethnic composition of the vote was 85% white, 8% black, and 4% Hispanic
• For voters aged 45-59, the ethnicity was 80% white, 12% black, and 4% Hispanic
• For voters aged 30-44, the ethnicity was 72% white, 15% black, and 7% Hispanic
• For voters aged 18-29, the ethnicity was 64% white, 19% black, and 11% Hispanic

What we’re seeing is that the under-30 population has become more ethnically diverse than older age groups. Whites are a smaller portion of the electorate, while the percentage of African Americans and Hispanics is growing.

The problem for Republicans is that African Americans and Hispanics tend to vote for Democrats. The following chart shows the percentage of people who voted for Obama in the November elections, by ethnicity and age-group:

Percent-who-voted-for-obama
Source: Young Voters in the 2008 Presidential Election Fact Sheet

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Republican Chairman Steele: 36 People of Color is Not Enough

”Please send some folks to the convention that look like Florida. Could you help a brother out? No more national conventions with [only] 36 people of color in the room.”
– Michael Steele, Chairman, Republican National Committee, speaking at a meeting of Florida Republicans in early April.

They say that, to solve a problem, you first have to know what the problem is.

But after you know what the problem is… you need a way to solve the problem, otherwise, the problem doesn’t go away.

I’ll give this to Michael Steele: he’s not afraid to say what the problem is. As discussed in Blacked Out: African Americans Near Invisible at the Republican Convention,

The 36 black delegates to the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul is the lowest total in 40 years for a Republican National Convention. These delegates represent 1.5 percent of the total number of delegates, substantially below the record setting 6.7 percent in 2004. (Editor’s note: The United States is 13% African American.)

Steele’s statement is useful, insofar it as it acknowledges the GOP’s obvious problem in attracting minorities, and signals that the Republican Party (or at least, that Michael Steele) wants minority input and participation.

The question is: where do they go from there? What is their plan to attract African Americans and Hispanics to the fold?

I have yet to hear it. If you have, drop me a line and let me know.