16

From a 2016 Pew Research Study, "The Parties on the Eve of the 2016 Election: Two Coalitions, Moving Further Apart":

Trends in party affiliation among black voters have been largely stable over recent years. Overall, 87% of black voters identify with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic, compared with just 7% who identify as Republican or lean Republican.

Among Hispanic voters, the Democratic Party holds a 63% to 27% advantage over the GOP in leaned party identification. As with black voters, trends in party affiliation among Hispanic voters have changed little in recent years.

One hypothesis as to why this trend exists, would be if GOP candidates, officials, and/or policies were racist or discriminatory. Many Democrats believe that Republicans are racist.

However, the GOP disavows racism in its official platform:

we oppose discrimination based on race, sex, religion, creed, disability, or national origin and support statutes to end such discrimination.

This policy is at least partly supported in action by the fact that several GOP officials recently condemned what they saw as racist tweets by Trump.

From a Republican perspective, how is the preference of minorities for the Democratic party explained in line with their anti-discrimination stance?

What I am looking for is a thesis or explanation, from a Republican perspective, as to why the GOP has little support among minorities in the U.S., as a counter to the common Democratic explanation that Republican candidates and policies are racist.

  • 5
    What's to explain? If you've grown up voting for a particular party, you tend to stick with it, and are predisposed to see the good aspects of it and the bad aspects of the other. – Meir Jul 19 at 23:47
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    To clarify: if a person has regularly voted in the past for Party A, and now they hear that Party A is saying and doing things against them and their interests, and Party B is saying and doing things in favor of them and their interests - it may cause them to switch. But equally well they may start to rationalize: well, Party A didn't really mean to go against me and my interests; they mean well; they'll soon come back to my side. Party B, meanwhile, is just trying to pander to me and my interests; and soon will show their true face; and there's some dog-whistle in there anyway... etc. etc. – Meir Jul 19 at 23:57
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    I think it's also worth adding that (a) in the US, with its longstanding two-party system, it may well be that people consider their political affiliation much more part of their personality (hence less likely to change) than in places where the political landscape is more fractured; (b) the kind of rationalization I mentioned above can of course be reinforced by one's family and friends and other social circle, and in that sense can be self-perpetuating, at least until some massive upheaval brings about a re-evaluation. – Meir Jul 20 at 0:12
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    You just can't cover all bases equally well. Republicans are doing fine in other demographics, at least good enough to win the Electoral college and the Senate. – Trilarion Jul 21 at 11:02
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    @Joe most of the explanations I have seen make the GOP look bad -- at some level they allege institutional racism within the GOP. I'd like to understand how Republicans themselves explain this in a way that counters such claims. – LShaver Jul 22 at 14:07
12

Thomas Sowell is a former syndicated columnist and professor of economics, who is black, can be described as conservative, and has generally favored the Republican Party. He has argued repeatedly that Republicans fail to appeal to black voters because they clumsily try to replicate the Democrats’ means of doing so.

Too many Republicans seem to think that the way to “reach out” is to offer blacks and other minorities what the Democrats are offering them. Some have even suggested that the channels to use are organizations like the NAACP and black “leaders” like Jesse Jackson — that is, people tied irrevocably to the Democrats.

Voters who want what the Democrats offer can get it from the Democrats. Why should they vote for Republicans who act like make-believe Democrats?

Yet there are issues where Republicans have a big advantage over Democrats — if they will use that advantage. But an advantage that you don’t use might as well not exist.

  • 1
    Can you explain a bit more about how Sowell's argument relates to the question? It sounds like the explanation he's proposing is that Republicans just don't try to appeal to African-Americans – that they could if they wanted to and chose to craft an effective strategy, but that, for whatever reason, the party hasn't taken that approach. Am I interpreting that correctly? – divibisan Jul 23 at 22:25
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    @dividisan Not quite. His criticism is, the few times that they try to appeal to black voters, they do so by trying to appeal to institutions and issues that are already dominated by Democrats (e.g. by having John McCain visit the NAACP and listening to what they want). He thinks it is better to appeal to black voters by addressing issues black voters care about differently from the way Democrats do, (e.g. offer to improve the education of inner city youth through voucher programs) – Joe Jul 24 at 9:36
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    But isn't that what I just said? The reason that black voters don't support the GOP is that the GOP doesn't actually try, in any useful or effective way, to appeal to them? Isn't he saying that there is a strategy that the GOP could use to appeal to black voters, but they haven't chosen to use it (for whatever reason)? – divibisan Jul 25 at 16:33
  • @divibisan Yes, he is saying that. They haven't chosen to use a strategy that would work for them, because they are choosing strategies that work for someone else, thinking that strategy will work for them. – Joe Jul 25 at 16:35
  • Ok, that makes sense. Maybe edit the question to highlight that point? – divibisan Jul 25 at 16:57
11

Politifact reports:

Mitt Romney told wealthy donors gathered at a high-dollar campaign fundraiser that there’s a group of voters he believes he can never win over: people who pay no taxes.

How is this relevant to race? Hispanics and blacks have lower incomes. Distribution of household income by race.

The Republican party basically has had three pillars since Ronald Reagan:

  1. Low taxes/free market economics.
  2. Moral majority (evangelicals, etc.).
  3. Strong defense.

What Romney was saying was that the first of those three pillars does not reach 47% of the population. And we can see that that 47% of the population is disproportionately minority.

After 2012, the Republican party produced a report (PDF) that suggested more minority outreach and increased support for immigration. However, in 2016, Donald Trump won the presidency on a policy of economic nativism (lower immigration and less trade) and won a larger share of the minority vote than Romney did in 2012.

  • 9
    That bit about the percentage of black and Latino voters is true, but requires context. The exit polls often have margins of error; I think they're around 1% with 95% confidence for the national samples of about 18000 people. Thus, the difference between Romney and Trump may actually be within the margin of error. Further, since these percentages are of voters, not citizens, turnout has an effect, and the turnout of black voters dropped by about 12%, Trump's support might even be a tad lower. – Obie 2.0 Jul 20 at 20:26
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    This is only a single statement by a single person. And it's not even directly about minorities. I think the conclusion in this answer is not based on sufficient data. – Trilarion Jul 21 at 11:00
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    @Trilarion Mitt Romney was the Republican presidential candidate in 2012. So without any evidence to the contrary, the assumption that he speaks for the Republican party as a whole is not far-fetched. – Philipp Jul 22 at 13:00
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    The table linked under "distribution of household income by race" does show a difference between white and minority households, but that difference doesn't appear to be significant enough to explain the difference in party allegiance by household income alone. The numbers certainly do not say that 87% of black voters don't have enough income to pay taxes. It might be a factor, but it can not be the only one. This makes this an incomplete answer. – Philipp Jul 22 at 13:05
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    Do you have any evidence that Romney was thinking about minorities when he said that, rather than low-income people in general? And, considering that most Republicans publicly disapproved of that statement (at least the impolitic nature of it, if not the substance), do you have any evidence that Republicans actually use this explanation? This reads like your own personal theory, but I don't see any evidence that anyone else uses this argument. – divibisan Jul 25 at 16:30
3

I'm aware that this answer is borderline because the source is not from a Republican perspective, but I think it's a relevant political analysis.

In this recent post Kevin Drum proposes the following explanation:

The Republican Party have acknowledged the need for them to do more to convince minority voters, for instance KD cites the Republican National Committee in 2012:

In 1980, exit polls tell us that the electorate was 88 percent white. In 2012, it was 72 percent white….According to the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2050, whites will be 47 percent of the country….The Republican Party must be committed to building a lasting relationship within the African American community year-round, based on mutual respect and with a spirit of caring.

But according to KD, pursuing this strategy would require for the Republican Party to "cease their tolerance of white bigotry", and that would mean losing some voters at least in the short term. KD continues his reasoning: "So instead they took another route: they went after the white vote even harder. In Donald Trump they found a candidate who wasn’t afraid to appeal to racist sentiment loudly and bluntly".

And this worked because racial resentment was particularly high after the Obama presidency: in another recent post KD presents some data which seems to support this hypothesis. He also notes that Trump won by "losing 10 points of support among college-educated whites but gaining 14 points among working-class whites.", which is consistent with this explanation.

TL;DR: according to Kevin Drum, the lack of support of the Republican Party from minority voters results from a political calculation: in 2016 there were more votes to gain by appealing to working-class white voters than to minority voters.

  • 7
    It's not just that this isn't from the Republican perspective. The two other problems with this answer are that it doesn't give a reason other than racism (the question asks for reasons other than racism) and that it doesn't really explain the changes in the minority vote. Donald Trump won a higher share of the minority vote than did Mitt Romney in 2012. So we can't explain minorities not voting for Republicans by pointing at Trump. Romney did even worse. And of course the analysis is flawed in that it claims the Republican Party chose Trump. But voters chose Trump over party protest. – Brythan Jul 27 at 14:48
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    @Brythan: This analysis doesn't rely on Republicans and/or their policies being racist at all, it claims that in 2016 Repubicans didn't try to appeal to minority voters because that would make them lose the other side of their voters, some of whom being in fact racists. The main point of this analysis is that it's a matter of political strategy rather than ideology. Imho the fact that Trump won more minority voters than Romney doesn't contradict this claim: it's quite clear that the main target electorate was working-class white voters, and there are obviously other factors at play. – Erwan Jul 27 at 15:39
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    Of course the Republican Party didn't choose Trump in the first place, but at the end of the day he was their candidate, and the voices in the Republican Party against his racist views were (and are still) rare so he is officially endorsed by the party. – Erwan Jul 27 at 15:44
  • @Erwan I doubt the racists are going to start voting Democrat if the Republicans aren't racist enough – user253751 Jul 29 at 3:08
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    @immibis True, but they might not bother voting at all. And a Republican candidate might not have to be racist themselves to appeal to these voters, but they could be deterred if a Republican candidate openly seeks the votes of minority voters. – Erwan Jul 29 at 10:58
2
+150

In the wake of their loss in the 2012 election, the RNC commissioned a report called the Growth and Opportunity Project which acted as a postmortem on that election and presented a plan to grow the party and adapt to changing political, societal, and demographic trends that, at that time, had led the GOP to lose the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 presidential elections.

The report highlighted the great potential for for the GOP to appeal to minority groups if the party could become more inclusive and show that all people were welcome in and represented by the party:

...office holders need to do a better job talking in normal, people-oriented terms and we need to go to communities where Republicans do not normally go to listen and make our case. We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too.

While the party, for good or ill, chose to go in the opposite direction in 2016, the document is an interesting look at what "establishment" Republicans in the Pre-Trump era saw as the reasoning for their lack of support among minorities, and the suggestions they had for reversing that trend.

You can read the whole document on documentcloud.org, or read summaries on The Atlantic, The New York Times, or NPR. Since the whole document is 100 pages long, I summarize a few of the main points and back them up with quotes from the document below:

  1. The party does not make minorities feel welcome or represented by the party. If people don't think the GOP cares about them as people, they will never listen to them about the issues, even if they would otherwise agree with them:

It is imperative that the RNC changes how it engages with Hispanic communities to welcome in new members of our Party. If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn't want them in the United States, they won't pay attention to our next sentence. It doesn't matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think that we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies

...

Because his [President George W. Bush] tone was inclusive and his effort to build a relationship was long-term, Hispanic Americans were willing to listen to his principles and policies on education, jobs, spending and other issues

  1. The GOP doesn't engage with minority communities. The party needs to make a concerted effort to engage with and build lasting relationships with these communities:

the Party can no longer function with a "flyover campaign" mentality where candidates fly in and out of communities for fundraisers but do not substantively engage with members of the communities.

The RNC must put significant effort and resources into reaching out to Hispanic media and news outlets

Similar to the approach it must take with other demographic communities, the RNC must embark on a year-round effort to engage with African American voters. The engagement must include not only persuasion based upon our Party's principles but also a presence within community organizations. ... the Republican Party must be committed to building a lasting relationship within the African American community year-round, based on mutual respect and with a spirit of caring

  1. The GOP needs to be inclusive. A more diverse party will make the party better able to deal with issues of importance in minority communities and will show the GOP cares about all people:

We need to build a team that is one with the Hispanic community. ... It is also a fair criticism that Republicans do not do enough to elevate Hispanic leaders within the Party infrastructure. This includes not just candidates running for office but also senior decision-makers in the RNC's infrastructure

...

One common theme throughout our discussion with various APA [Asian and Pacific Islander] groups is that the Republican Party needs to stop talking about outreach and begin talking about inclusion. ... There is a belief that the RNC should develop a rising star program at the state and local level for each state so that we can encourage members of minority communities to purse higher elected office.

  1. The GOP needs to crack down on racism and intolerance in the party's messaging:

The Republican Party is one of tolerance and respect, and we need to ensure that the tone of our message is always reflective of these core principles. In the modern media environment, a poorly phrased argument or out-of-context statement can spiral out of control and reflect poorly on the Party as a whole. Thus we must emphasize during candidate trainings, retreats, etc., the importance of a welcoming, inclusive message in particular when discussing issues that relate directly to a minority group.

  • I think this answer could use some improvement but I've awarded you the bounty because this is the sort of thing I'm looking for (and I only had 41 minutes left to pick a winner). Was there much GOP commentary on this when it came out? How widely supported was it within the party? – LShaver Aug 1 at 13:52
-1

I would argue that the dichotomous nature of the democrat's stereotype of Racist Republicans and the Republican platform is that there are two different ideas of Equality in play that rarely support one another: Equality of Opportunity and Equality of Outcome. To best explain this in a way that has nothing to do with protected classes, suppose you are a soccer coach looking for a new goalie and you have two candidates. In try outs, candidate A blocked 12 goals out of 15 and candidate B blocked 13 goals out of 15. Who do you pick?

Equality of Opportunity will hold that the best goalie will be Candidate B because B blocked more goals in an equal competition and is clearly the better goalie and nothing matters.

Equality of Outcome will hold that Candidate A might be a better candidate on the team for factors unrelated to being a goaly (perhaps B is more controversial with fans or B is a great Goalie, but A is better on the field overall can be substituted for a player who is fatigued or injured for a critical play much better than B).

Republicans tend to favor Equality of Outcome, while Democrats tend to favor Equality of Opportunity. Neither is wrong but supporters of one tend to see flaws with the other.

Republicans will argue that Democrats were wrong because A is objectively the worst goalie and the question asks you judge the best goalie. Democrats will argue that A is still a human and the question asked for the best and doesn't set an objective measurable out right (A is a fan favorite, while B is booed by fans of the team he is playing on or A is overall better at soccer than B) and that overall that make A a better goalie.

Remember that either candidate is only different by the objective measure of blocked goals.

This gets alot more heated when its asked what are hot button issues. Favoring Oppertunity will lead to more majority members of a group because the definition of a majority is that there is a number advantage. Favoring Outcome will strive for a diverse make up, but can look like a minority might have only been selected because he was a minority at the expense of a person who can perform the job.

In more political issues a republican tax cut that lowers all taxes 2% will not lower all taxes by the same value. This is because a person paying a higher tax will recieve more money back because he is paying more tax, while someone who is paying a lower tax will receive less because the cut is less. The cut is still equal in opertunity because another way to say it is that "For every dollar you payed in taxes prior to the cut, you will now pay 98 cents." But the outcome is unequal because the someone paying $10 dollars in taxes gets $0.20 back while someone paying $100 no gets $2.00 back. Both are 2% of the former result, but the former result is not the same.

This can also play into discussing who is bigoted. Consider the South Park Character of Cartman who is widely considered a terrible human being. Is Cartman a racist character? Well, a Republican may argue that he says terrible things to Token Black (that is the character's name) and Stan (a jew) about their races, but he's also just as horrible to Butters and Kyle, who are White Christians (He's a jerk, but he's an equal opportunity jerk). Democrats may counter that he never bullies white characters for being white or christian unless that is topical to the episode, but will still drop racial epitaphs as insults to characters in episodes that aren't about racial matters and still acts like women are inferior. That isn't to say that either side of the political spectrum supports Cartman's behavior in real life. Only that they might characterize Carmen differently over the spectrum. And his popularity among the shows fans is because he provides the common ground of the show: We might not agree with the politics of the show's message, but we can definitely agree that Cartman is not taking an acceptable solution to the problem.

  • 1
    While this is an interesting discussion, I really don't see how it answers the question about how Republicans explain their party's lack of support among minority voters – divibisan Aug 1 at 17:59
  • "Republicans tend to favor Equality of Outcome, while Democrats tend to favor Equality of Opportunity." Shouldn't it be the other way around? – dan04 Aug 9 at 5:38
  • @dan04: Good catch, thanks. – hszmv Aug 9 at 13:48
  • Also, you have your South Park characters mixed up: Kyle is Jewish, and Stan is Christian (Catholic). – dan04 Aug 10 at 18:09
  • @dan04: To be honest, of the main four, I cannot tell them apart. They're practically twins and usually both occupy the role of "only sane man". – hszmv Aug 12 at 12:56

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