The claim: according to Ben Carson, the GOP may soon be getting black voters in by “droves.”
Earlier this week, at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa, Dr. Ben Carson made the extraordinary claim that African-American voters are “waking up” to the possibility of voting for a GOP candidate. Does Carson have extraordinary evidence to back up this notion? Are there new polls or mass movements about to be revealed by this candidate, who currently holds an average of less of than 6 percent of the Republican votes in national polls? Not even close. Carson’s argument comes down to this: “I met with a group of black pastors yesterday and people are waking up in droves. I think they’re realizing what’s been happening here.” This almost seems like a non sequitur, considering the GOP’s seeming to double down on their racist stances, such as:
- Trump’s remarks, that were so racist that other GOP candidates are rushing to distance themselves from him, and his sponsors dropping him left and right, even as his popularity surges in polls (with many speculating his rise to frontrunner is because of such comments)
- racists using Confederate flags to taunt Obama when he came to Oklahoma to visit a federal prison
- Tennessee Republican Rep. Andy Holt calling Confederate leader and the first KKK Grand Wizard, Nathan Bedford Forrest, “one of the South’s first civil rights leaders”
- GOP candidate Scott Walker’s use of demonizing unions, the poor and voters of color in order to appeal to whites
Instead of explaining why current black voters would be moving in “droves” to vote Republican, Carson gives a vague, almost non-sensical antidote of his own experience.
Continuing with his theme, Carson said that Ronald Reagan was his inspiration to convert from growing up in a Democratic household, to becoming a Republican, after hearing ‘horror stories’ about conservatives. ‘I started listening to Ronald Reagan… and I said he doesn’t sound like that.’
The facts: Ben Carson and the GOP are the ones that need to “wake up.”
Sorry Ben Carson, as BlackDemographics.com reports, numbers from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and the Pew Research Center show that neither black voters’ affiliation with the Democratic party nor presidential voting habits have changed significantly since the mid-1980’s. In fact, a GOP presidential candidate has not received more than 20 percent of the black vote since 1960.
In the last presidential election, Obama got 93 percent of the black vote. Although, it’s no wonder Carson is hanging so tightly to his delusion that he can get “droves” of African-American voters to his side — it is nothing more than that. According to The New York Times, Republicans have been making the same claims and efforts since 1996, but they have been completely fruitless. The truth is, without a major policy shift, it’s not going to happen anytime in the near future. To look at what kind of changes would need to be made, we can look at the past. According to a FactCheck.org article, explaining the shift of the black vote from the Republican Party of Lincoln (who did, after all, free the slaves) to today, the biggest changes occurred during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s and Lyndon B. Johnson’s administrations.
The election of Roosevelt in 1932 marked the beginning of a change. He got 71 percent of the black vote for president in 1936 and did nearly that well in the next two elections, according to historical figures kept by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. But even then, the number of blacks identifying themselves as Republicans was about the same as the number who thought of themselves as Democrats.
It wasn’t until Harry Truman garnered 77 percent of the black vote in 1948 that a majority of blacks reported that they thought of themselves as Democrats. Earlier that year Truman had issued an order desegregating the armed services and an executive order setting up regulations against racial bias in federal employment.
It was then Johnson’s pushing of the 1964 Civil Right’s Act, outlawing public segregation, and 1965 signing of the Voting Rights Act that seemed to lock up the black vote for decades to come. One only has to look at the Pew Research Center’s data to realize that the black vote is more solidly Democratic than any other single determining factor including: gender, religion or generation.
Ben Carson can dream and grasp at straws all he likes, but his claims have absolutely no basis in reality.
Featured image via WikiMedia