Jewish World Review August 23, 2002 / 15 Elul, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Rep. Cynthia McKinney, the bigoted buffoon who has misrepresented Georgia's 4th Congressional District for five terms, will not be a member of the next Congress, thanks in part to Republican crossover votes in Georgia's Democratic primary Aug. 20.
The margin of victory for former state judge Denise Majette was sufficiently large - 58 percent to 42 percent - that the challenger might have triumphed without the help of Republicans in the majority black suburban Atlanta district. And Majette is a conventionally liberal Democrat who will cast few votes of which Republicans will approve. Still, the GOP can count it as a victory of sorts, and it may presage more to come.
Public Opinion Strategies recently concluded its annual survey for Black America's Political Action Committee (BAMPAC). It showed a remarkable increase in black support for President Bush and Congressional Republicans from a year ago March, when the last BAMPAC poll was taken. Then, only 19 percent of blacks approved of the job President Bush was doing. Now, 41 percent do. This is significantly lower than the president's job approval rating among all Americans (65-70 percent), but is higher than the current 37 percent approval given by all Democrats.
The survey of 1,000 registered voters indicated support among blacks - who gave Al Gore nearly 92 percent of their votes in 2000 - for Democrats is declining. The percentage of blacks who say the Democratic Party has served them well fell from 61 percent last year to 49 percent this year. Forty percent of those polled say Democrats take them for granted.
A poll is not an election. But the attitude shift reflected in the BAMPAC survey could partly explain why GOP Rep. Robert Ehrlich is now in a statistical tie with the much better funded Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in the race for governor of heavily Democratic Maryland. Ehrlich's running mate is black.
It isn't only among blacks that Bush and Republicans are being viewed with new respect. A survey conducted in the first two weeks of August of 1,000 Hispanics by McLaughlin & Associates for the Latino Coalition showed that the Democratic lead in a generic congressional ballot has fallen to 12 percentage points from 34 two years ago. Gore got 67 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2000. But in a hypothetical rematch, Bush leads Gore, 50 to 35 percent.
Overall, Bush got a 68 percent job approval rating from Hispanics, almost identical to his approval rating among Americans as a whole. Interestingly, support for Bush was stronger among Hispanics who preferred to be interviewed in Spanish rather than English, and stronger among those who were not registered to vote than among those who were.
Again, a poll is not an election. But in an event widely ignored by the news media even in California, at their state convention this month 22 of the 32 chapters of the Mexican American Political Association endorsed Republican Bill Simon for governor over incumbent Democrat Gray Davis, as startling a political development as if the National Rifle Association were to endorse Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, Bush and Republicans appear to be making inroads among Jewish voters, the most reliably Democratic of white ethnic groups. In 2000, only one Jew in five voted for Bush. Several surveys taken this year indicate that proportion could double in 2004.
It's important to keep this in perspective. This November and in 2004, most blacks, Hispanics and Jews will vote Democratic. If Bush were to increase his share of the black vote by 50 percent, he would still have only one black in eight voting for him.
But marginal increases can be critical. If Bush had gotten 12 instead of 8 percent of the black vote, there'd have been no need for a recount in Florida; he'd have taken Wisconsin, Iowa and New Mexico from Gore, and might have won in Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Worse for Democrats could be a change in perception. Democrats tend to campaign in minority communities by calling Republicans names. If it becomes acceptable to vote Republican, Democrats would have to address issues to gain minority votes. They're not very comfortable doing that.
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right