Jackson's confirmation aside, GOP sees openness with black voters

The spectacle created by Republican senators with presidential ambitions as they bullied the first black woman nominated to the Supreme ...


The spectacle created by Republican senators with presidential ambitions as they bullied the first black woman nominated to the Supreme Court — after which 47 Republicans voted against her on Thursday — might have seemed stark proof that the GOP had overruled the black vote in november.

Far from there. In rising inflation, stratospheric gas prices, lingering frustrations over Covid and new concerns over the war in Ukraine, Republicans see a new opening, after the Obama and Trump eras, to weed out some voters blacks who polls show are increasingly disenchanted with the Biden administration.

Thanks to gerrymandering, Republicans don’t need to win too many black voters to affect a handful of races, and dozens of black Republican house candidates — a record number of them — are reshaping the party’s playing field.

On the contrary, the GOP’s treatment of the Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jacksonwas a testament to the party’s confidence that amid so many more powerful political forces and more all-consuming objects of public attention, their handling of his confirmation simply didn’t matter that much.

“I think the black people that this would turn off weren’t voting Republicans anyway, no matter what,” said Wesley Hunt, a Black Army veteran and Republican newcomer to politics who is running for a dark red seat at the Texas House.

Senate Republican leaders had warned their colleagues ahead of the confirmation fight to keep the process civil and cordial, clearly worried that the sight of a phalanx of white Republican inquisitors would discourage voters in an election year. But if Democrats still believe Judge Jackson’s brutal treatment will inspire black voters to come out in November and vote Democratic in large numbers, it seems likely they will be disappointed.

For frustrated voters of all colors struggling to pay their bills and refuel, the November vote may just be a chance to vote against the ruling party.

“We are not a monolith,” said Jennifer-Ruth Green, a black Air Force veteran who is running for Congress in northwest Indiana as a Republican. “We see inflation and gas prices. Voters are not stupid.

In Gary, Ind., Roshaun Knowles, 42, a cosmetologist taking a break from the Billco Barber Shop, summarized how the confirmation hearings would play out as she contemplates her vote this fall. She said she felt despair when an accomplished black woman was questioned by white senators who she said lacked the intelligence and poise of Judge Jackson.

“Being in a room full of white people asking her questions about where she learned what she learned and what she’s capable of – you know, that didn’t appeal to me,” Ms Knowles said. “She should have been treated like a white man would have been treated,” she added.

But, she said, the vaccination warrants cost her a job as a property manager for a housing authority after she refused to be vaccinated. Stimulus checks have kept too many people out of the workforce. And President Biden? “He didn’t do anything,” she said. “What did he do?”

Ms Knowles said she was leaning towards voting Republican this fall, as she did in 2020, when she voted for Donald J. Trump, after voting for Hillary Clinton four years prior and Barack Obama twice.

Republicans in the campaign and on the air are pushing the image of a shaky Democratic leadership that has no idea how to handle economic uncertainty, the lingering pandemic and rising crime. When Republican officials are asked about the party’s strategy toward black voters, they invariably call on the few black Republican elected officials and candidates to make the pitch.

But tellingly, black Republican candidates such as Mrs Green and John Jameswho is running for a Michigan House seat, are not advertising their party affiliations, just their biographies — a sign that the GOP brand remains toxic in some corners.

And Republican outreach efforts consist of little more than capturing black disaffection with Democrats.

Paris Dennard, director of black media affairs for the Republican National Committee, said the party has opened eight community centers across the country to engage black voters. Candidates like Mr. Hunt are proof that the party’s message entices black Republicans to run, he said.

But messaging focused on the shortcomings of Democrats is depriving black voters of hearing about the policies they actually want, said Leah Wright Rigor, author of “The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power.”

“It’s an incredibly effective strategy, but it’s also insidious,” said Dr. Rigueur, an associate professor of history at Johns Hopkins University. “It only works when there’s this dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party.”

It works, however, even with black voters who during the Obama and Trump years were remarkably united behind the Democratic Party.

“I don’t think Biden is really in power,” scoffed Robert Sanders as he cut Gary’s hair, echoing criticism from the political right of the 79-year-old president. “I think he’s being escorted through the office.”

the softening of Biden’s approval among black voters is a clear warning to Democrats. Approval for the president among registered black voters fell to 62% in March from 83% last summer in an NBC News poll and was unaffected by the Supreme Court fight, said Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm that conducted the survey. with the Democratic firm Hart Research.

The percentage of black voters in the poll who said they strongly approved of the president’s performance fell to 28% last month, from 46% between April and August last year. And the intensity of support predicts turnout.

Cornell Belcher, a black Democratic pollster, said the polls go back to the days before Mr. Obama positively energized black voters and Mr. Trump then negatively energized them. Prior to 2008, he noted, it was normal for 12 to 14 percent of the black electorate to vote Republican.

“What’s more problematic is the lack of energy among young voters, especially young African Americans,” Belcher said, noting that young voters of color in 2018 delivered Democrats to the brink. Room. “It’s an unexcited, disenchanted, frustrated, younger electorate right now, more like the electorate of 2014 and 2010 than 2018 – and that’s disastrous.”

Democratic officials say they are responding with plans to mobilize black voters that have begun earlier than in previous midterm cycles. Last spring, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hired organizers in five battleground states to focus on key Democratic precincts. Thursday, the committee announced a new round of ad buys with black media.

Chris Taylor, a spokesman for the committee, said Republicans’ efforts to woo black voters were dishonest given voting records among party members on pandemic relief, criminal justice reform and air and water quality legislation.

“Almost every Republican in Congress opposed our priorities,” said Taylor, who is black.

Due to gerrymandered district lines, most Republican House candidates do not need many, if any, black voters. But in districts like Indiana’s First, with its narrow Democratic bent and a Republican target on its back, a Republican challenger will have to make inroads with black voters, or at least hope for low Democratic turnout.

Judge Jackson’s harsh reception does not appear to be a threat to that hope. Even black voters who watched the hearings carefully were surprisingly lenient with his Republican inquisitors.

“I don’t think she was treated fairly,” said Greg Fleming, 72, a financial adviser to Gary. “But that’s how things are in this country. In the current climate, unfortunately, that is to be expected.

Like Indiana’s first, Georgia’s second district still leans Democratic, but if a candidate can contribute to their rural black vote, they have a strong chance. For Jeremy Hunt, an Army veteran and black candidate who is running in the Republican primary to challenge Rep. Sanford Bishop, a longtime Democrat who is also black, the Supreme Court is not part of his calculus.

“We can talk about Republicans versus Democrats, but ultimately that’s not what voters want to hear from us as leaders,” Hunt said. “There’s a huge temptation to get into stuff at the national level and talk about what’s going on, you know, at different levels, but a lot of our campaigning remains local.”

Yet when he talks about what’s plaguing local farmers and truckers, Hunt said, he invariably comes back to the economy, gas prices and inflation.

Black voters were the most likely to say they were personally behind because of inflation, according to the NBC News poll. And that produces anxieties that Republicans are eager to exploit.

Representative Byron Donalds of Florida, one of two black Republicans in the House, said, “We have rich black people. We have rich whites. We have poor black people. We have poor white people. If you are poor in the United States, you are feeling the effects of $4.30 gasoline. You are feeling the effects of heating oil prices which have increased by 60%. You feel the effects of meat, bread, and milk, all of which increase dramatically. »

Mr Donalds said he watched most of Judge Jackson’s hearings and saw nothing for Republicans to apologize for.

“They never entered his personal life,” he said. “They never touched on his personal journey. Never once did their accusations relate to his character.

As Democrats disappointed and Republicans offered a weak alternative, some black voters said they didn’t know where to turn politically.

In Gary, Mr. Fleming expressed concern about the rise of the Democratic left. But until more Republicans abandoned their “conspiracy theories” and extreme commentary, he said, they weren’t really an option.

“I mean, they thought everything that happened on January 6 was AOK? It’s crazy,” Mr Fleming said. “If a Mitt Romney-type Republican showed up, I could go. But Republicans, they’re on another planet right now. I can’t even call them extreme right. They defy gravity.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Jackson's confirmation aside, GOP sees openness with black voters
Jackson's confirmation aside, GOP sees openness with black voters
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