No, African-Americans Will Not Vote for Herman Cain

Herman Cain thinks he can draw 1 in 3 African-American voters, which some media outlets are reporting as if it were a remotely sensible statement. The President’s prior experience running against a different never-before-elected outspoken Black Republican preacher and radio host is instructive (or at least ought to be): Black voters in Illinois went for Obama by a more than 11 to 1 margin over Alan Keyes in the 2004 U.S. Senate race.

African-Americans remain staunch Democratic voters, and though President Obama’s approval among Black Americans has slipped a bit this year, a whopping 86% have a generally favorable view of him. If only Blacks were allowed to vote and Cain were the Republican nominee, the President would completely crush him in every precinct in the country.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

32 thoughts on “No, African-Americans Will Not Vote for Herman Cain”

  1. Far from me to disagree with this prediction, though I find the confidence with which it’s put forth somewhat excessive.

    What does strike me is that, while this state of affairs is obviously beneficial to the Democratic party, (Having a significant fraction of the population that automatically vote for you without even a second thought? Of course you love it!) is it really in the interest of blacks to be so devoted to one party?

    So you’ve got one party which needn’t bother caring about their interests, because doing so gets them nothing? And the other which needn’t bother, because failing to do so loses them nothing? It’s one of hardest rule of politics, that if your vote isn’t in play, you get squat. A whole race whose votes aren’t in play… How self destructive is that, anyway?

    And… how precisely is such a state of affairs maintained? I’ve got doubts that you achieve 98% of the vote for a particular party, (As happened for Obama in 2008.) in an entirely savory manner.

    Anyway, such confidence in an experiment which hasn’t been performed!

    1. Nice of you to be concerned for the welfare of African-Americans, Brett. One thing that becomes clear when, say, the party national conventions are held, or when party caucuses meet in Congress, is that the Democratic Party, because of its increased support for civil rights over the last 60 years (starting, for example, with the 1948 party platform) has become a party in which black people have considerable power. By contrast the Republican Party, with its increasingly welcoming attitude towards whites who oppose civil rights (e.g., the 1964 national convention), has become a party in which black people increasingly feel unwelcome and have less power.

      It’s not just African-Americans who tend to align overwhelmingly with one party. Jewish voters consistently give 3/4 or more of their votes to Democratic candidates. Similarly, there are ethnic, geographic and religious subgroups of white voters who align overwhelmingly with one party—typically the Republican Party.

      1. Things do change, admittedly voting patterns change slowly over a pretty long period of time. Between those transitions, they are remarkably consistent. The usually reliable Jewish vote for Dems is changing, and the transition, when it finally happens is often a surprise. The early indication was the recent special election in Queens County, NY. Florida Jewish voters are in play too. I expect the Jewish vote to come in about even in 2012, maybe a plurality for the Republican. Won’t make a difference in NY but it could in Florida, and even Ohio.

        The transition for A-A voters back to the Republican Party, if it ever happens, will be different. It will break along socio – economic lines. As Blacks succeed in achieving middle class status and have a bigger stake in the system, they will give Republican candidates more consideration. Cain’s target of one-third is ambitious for 2012, but probably realistic for 2020. I think he is counting on A-A voters to be as disappointed with the administration’s performance as other population segments, and he might be right about that.

        1. Little known fact: Many African Americans are middle class. Many are socially conservative. Some are even economically conservative. If Republicans ever lose their contempt for blacks, or even learn to hide it better, they’ll get some of those votes.

          As for the Jewish vote, here are the proportions of the vote that went to Democrats from 1984 through 2008: 67, 64, 80, 78, 79, 76, 78. If you look hard, you’ll see a trend: Democrats get a ton of Jewish votes.

          If only the Jews and blacks were smart enough to understand their own interests, eh?

      2. I only checked the 2008 exit poll results, but about three-quarters of white evangelicals in that election went for McCain; this is comparable to the proportion of people making under $15K who voted for Obama.

    2. The thing about subtle racism is that it isn’t subtle to the victims. Of course black people aren’t going to vote for Republicans, any more than they were going to vote for overtly racist Democrats.

  2. Herman Cain got thrown directly under the bus by the Republican “intelligentsia,” such as they are, by responding to a question that was asked of him concerning Rick Perry’s “n***rehead” problem with the suggestion that it *might* have been *somewhat* insensitive to leave the name as long as he did. For that, he was accused of “playing the race card.” Not for calling black Democratic voters “brainwashed” or any of the other such statements he’s made, but for suggesting that leaving your little ranch named with a racial epithet might be slightly uncool. For this, he drew the ire of the chattering GOP tastemakers.

    And Bellmore wonders why blacks don’t vote for Republicans. (Along the way insinuating that something illegal is going on.)

    Never change, Bellmore. But make sure you remind us next time, when you find yourself clearly exposed and losing, how you make a point not to think the worst of your policitcal opponents. That one will never get old. It’s up there with Carlin’s “seven dirty words” in the annals of comic gold.

    1. Phil,

      The shift in all the polls away from Perry and the boomlet for Cain puts the lie both to your analysis of GOP voter reaction to that dustup, as well as to your kneejerk perception that equates Reublicans with racism.

  3. I don’t believe for a second that black political opinion is nearly as one sided as the black vote. I mean, come on, 98%? Even dictators holding fake elections know better than to rig things to THAT extent. So, yeah, besides the groupthink and general peer pressure, I suspect there might be something illegal going on. Particularly in some of those districts where there aren’t any opposition election observers, and the Democratic party goes bats**t if anybody starts phoning absentee voters after the election to see if they really did cast votes. (Call it “intimidation”, like anybody in their right mind, however unethical, intimidates voters right AFTER an election.)

    The alternative is thinking that blacks are intellectually monoclonal to an insane degree. So, yes, I doubt it. I doubt it because I’m NOT racist. And it would take racism to find results like that plausible.

    1. Shorter Brett: elections are illegal unless Republican voter-intimidation tactics produce the results I like, and people who think I’m a racist are the REAL racists.

    2. “Monoclonal to an insane degree” sounds like a damn good description of modern Republicans.
      Perhaps Brett meant to describe black voters as monoclonal anti-bodies.


  4. Come on now, you find a party getting 98% of the vote in a contested election plausible? You think there aren’t 2% conservatives among blacks? Just what do you think of them, that you’re willing to attribute that kind of lack of intellectual diversity to them? You think they’re manufactured in a factory? Cloned? Of course it’s fishy!

    1. I’m sorry, but where are you getting the 98% figure from? The only figures I see in the original post are the 86% favorable rating for Obama this year, and African-Americans voting for Obama over Alan Keyes by an 11 to 1 margin (which is closer to 92%).

    2. Brett, you do understand that the data on how people of different racial, economic, age, etcetera groups vote comes from exit polls, and not from the voting tallies, don’t you? I mean, I suppose one could manipulate exit poll data in service of a long con, trying to persuade members of a given group that their membership in that group means they must vote a certain way, but the exit polls associated with an election have no effect on the outcome of that election, and they are released just about as long as is possible before the next election. What purpose the sort of conspiracy to fool us about Black voting would serve is quite beyond me – unless, of course, it’s a wider conspiracy, in which the votes of millions of Trent Lott-loving Black Republicans are stolen in the polling place and the answers of exit poll respondents are also changed in order to hide the vote theft. Although then you’re involving so many conspirators that you might almost go ahead and accuse the voters of being in on the conspiracy – at which point we’ve come full circle, and there is no conspiracy.

    3. Actually, I think it’s evidence that African-Americans are extremely intelligent, and understand well where their interests, and those of the country at large, lie.

  5. It’s endlessly amusing to me that Republicans are so smugly self-assured that they are brilliant and just and good, that they can’t imagine black people can see right through their bluster to the racism underneath. Yet they do, while the Republicans can barely see it themselves.

  6. Look, assuming you’d get 98% out of blacks “seeing right through” Republicans requires one of two things: Either blacks are so incredibly uniform in their views that none of them are going to agree with Republicans, or what they “see” in Republicans verges on genocidal.

    Now, I suppose the more fringe liberals find the latter plausible, given their Manichean worldview, where you either agree with them, or are pure eeevul. I find neither as plausible as intimidation and rigged elections.

    70, 80%? I could believe that. 98%? Come on!

    1. Brett, you’re being a jackass: going stupid on that 98% number.

      But for some reason, I feel obligated to take your comments seriously. There are many black conservatives. They are primarily social conservatives, but there are some black economic conservatives. They don’t mind a conservative party. What they don’t like is Republican rhetoric, which often decodes to niggerniggnernigger. Although I must say, I’ve never met a black libertarian.

    2. San Francisco itself voted ~84% Obama –
      as compared to ~14% McCain. It’s not prima facia evidence of electoral fraud.

      A better notion would be to look in the mirror and ask why A.A. voters are voting D instead of R. And don’t start by blaming the Democratic party, or the A.A. voters as being dumb.

      If you ask kindly, I’m sure some here would give you pointers.

    3. Brett, it’s because the GOP has worked very, very, very f*cking hard to alienate blacks. Blacks have been the core designated ‘other’ and enemy for the right, for a long time.

      It’s your fault, your guilt, and your deliberate decision.

  7. Just to grant Brett access to the rest of the library of rhetoric he is so clearly accessing, permit me to point out that the Democrats got 90% of the Jewish vote in 1940, 1944, and 1964.

  8. There’s never a bad time to quote the crazification factor:

    “Tyrone: Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him. They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That’s crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% Crazification Factor in any population.”

  9. Eb, the mason who did my fireplace, black man, was a libertarian. Interesting guy, lives in Georgia and comes to DC every so often to work and get enough money to go home and go fishing. Viet Nam vet. Goes to church most Sundays. I’m going to bet that, if there’s an Obama-Cain race, he will vote Cain. He was quite pungent on race pimps – Jackson, Sharpton, etc. Very doubtful that the welfare system does more good than harm. There may or may not be a lot like him – but he’s out there.

    1. Thanks, Dave. Now I’ve never met one, but now I’ve heard of one. (There is nothing rare about black people who are pungent on race pimps, although such pungency is usually not shared with the pallid people. Just like Jews, who until about 10-15 years ago, would never be caught dead slagging Likud in front of the goyim.)

  10. The Illinois GOP thought Alan Keyes could win a larger share of the black vote in 2004 when he ran against Obama in the U.S. Senate election too. They were wrong.

  11. If black Republicans truly desire to recruit more black voters to their party then they will need to create a retail political agenda that moves beyond attempting to use issues such as abortion, gay marriage, prayers in school, trickle down economics or claims of blacks being brainwashed to drive a wedge between African American voters and the Democratic Party. 
Black voters, given their unique history and experiences in the United States, are particularly adroit at understanding and navigating the complexity of American electoral politics and they are not likely to throw over their allegiance to one party or candidate based on issues that they view as tangential to their lives.

    Black Republicans might employ, for example, an organizing tactic that was used to great success by the Civil Rights movement: engaging in direct action within the black community. Black Republicans who genuinely care about persuading more black voters to cast their ballots for GOP candidates then they will have to be willing to get in the trenches and dig hard for black votes. In operational terms, this means walking the streets in black neighborhoods, knocking on the doors of black voters and helping black people organize around issues directly affecting their lives and communities.

    As long as the Republican Party, for whatever reasons, seems not able or not willing to recruit and sponsor attractive black political candidates who can either win or run extremely well in predominantly black or substantially black voting districts then the Republican Party will make little or no headway among black voters. Until that time comes, if it does at all, comments and speculations about the motivations (and, by implication, the intelligence) of black voters will seem like nothing more than the childish whining of sore losers.

    Former Representative J.C. Watts and others may be correct in asserting that blacks have a greater affinity for the values embodied in the platform and legislative agenda of the Republicans than they do for the Democrats. The truest test of his contention lies, however, in the voting booth. The potency and credibility of these claims cannot be established through the op-ed pages of newspapers and the pronouncements of black intellectuals affiliated with various conservative foundations and “think tanks.” Black voters may be acting contrary to their best interests by putting all of their political eggs into the Democratic basket but, to date, too many black Republicans seem baffled and turned off by the heavy lifting required to move any black eggs into their party’s basket.

  12. Another comment on Br. Cain et al.:

    The struggle over which political party – the Democrats or the Republicans – deserves to be the dance card favorite of black voters presents one of the more intractable, if not paradoxical, problems on the American political landscape. No group of political party pundits and activists seem to secrete more sweat and angst over this issue than black conservatives. Their anxiety is understandable and not just because they might be feeling a tad bit lonely given the lack of support black voters give to Republican Party candidates at all levels.

    In truth there was no liberal fairy dust sprinkled over the heads of black voters that caused them to flee from the arms of the Republicans. The more likely cause, as many blacks recall, was the unapologetic embrace of American apartheid by the Republican Party’s presidential nominee Senator Barry Goldwater in 1964 and the party’s efforts to establish a new base for itself among disaffected southern white Democrats. Although a higher percentage of Republicans in the House and Senate voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Bill than did Democrats, Goldwater, armed with the legal and intellectual arguments provided by two of his aides, future Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist and Robert Bork, voted against the bill. 

No liberal ideologues caused Ronald Reagan to kick-off his campaign in 1980 by visiting the notorious Philadelphia, Mississippi – where three civil rights workers were murdered – and declare his support for states’ rights. The reality is that Democratic Party liberals did not destroy the relationship between black voters and the Republican Party. White Republican political conservatives, many of who left the Democratic Party in disgust in1964, managed to accomplish this dubious achievement on their own; and, they and their fellow black Republicans need to own up to this fact if either hopes to persuade more blacks to vote for Republican candidates in the future.

  13. You are 100% right. Alan Keyes is a black Republican with a PhD from Harvard. When he ran against Obama for Senator from Illinois he was beaten 11 to 1 among blacks. Keyes ran 6-7 other times for Senate and President, so I will try to find out how he did among blacks in those races. I am sure, however, that given a choice between a white liberal Democrat and black conservative Republican, the vast majority (85-90% at least) will vote for the white guy.

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