Cover Story

Demographic hope

"Demographic hope" Continued...

Issue: "Divided we stand," Dec. 1, 2012

Black conservatives had an even harder time, but it wasn’t because they didn’t try. Harry Jackson spent months traveling with Christian groups in several states to promote conservative causes, including traditional marriage.

Derek McCoy, a member of Jackson’s church, spearheaded the Maryland Marriage Alliance to combat a “gay marriage” initiative. A slate of black pastors and church leaders joined McCoy in the effort.

William Owens led the Coalition of African-American Pastors, and said Obama had betrayed the black community by endorsing same-sex “marriage.”

E.W. Jackson—head of Exodus Faith Ministries and chairman of Ministers Taking a Stand—recorded a video for black Christians, and told them: “It is time to end the slavish devotion to the Democratic Party.” He also decried the Democratic Party’s “unholy alliance” with Planned Parenthood, “which has killed unborn black babies by the tens of millions.”

Ministers weren’t the only ones trying. Crystal Wright—author of the blog Conservative Black Chick—said the Republican National Committee hired her a year ago to create a black outreach website to attract more blacks to the Republican Party.

“After near completion of the site in the late spring of 2012, Romney and the RNC killed the project, explaining they didn’t want to launch the site without putting outreach activities behind it,” she wrote the morning after the election. “I agreed and recommended a slate of outreach activities such as town hall meetings at historically black colleges and universities in swing states such as Virginia and North Carolina. The RNC refused to fund any black outreach activities.”

Romney did address the NAACP, and the campaign talked with some black pastors. Jackson said he had discussions with Romney staffers, and offered to gather 100 black church leaders to meet the candidate. The campaign didn’t accept the offer. And he said he never saw campaign advertising or significant outreach in the black community during his travels.

(Samuel Rodriguez said the Romney campaign consistently reached out to him, and he appreciated the interaction. But like Jackson, he said it didn’t translate into grassroots activity in the Hispanic community.)

Jackson acknowledges the issues surrounding black voters are complex. But Republicans have gained a bigger slice of their support before: President Richard Nixon won 18 percent of the black vote in 1972, and George W. Bush won 11 percent in 2004. And while it’s a significant challenge, if Republicans and other conservatives never reach out, they’ll never gain ground, he says: “It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

The conservative black pastors seeking to gain ground faced an overwhelming challenge in a community that supported Obama by nearly 93 percent. The president enjoyed support from the NAACP, a host of black ministers, and local churches that supported his reelection.

PICO—a group that calls itself a non-partisan network of faith-based organizations—published a litany for black churches to use during Sunday worship. The liturgy included:

LEADER: “We honor the legacy of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X … We celebrated the successes and sacrifices of presidential candidates Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton.”

PEOPLE: “In 2008, we said, ‘Yes we can, and yes we will.’”

LEADER: “In 2012 we will not go back!”

Jackson said African-American pastors will have to be willing to face backlash to support more conservative candidates in coming years. And he encourages black churches to focus on “righteousness and morality,” no matter what politicians are in office.

That’s a message churches across the spectrum should heed, he says: “Our problems are at their roots spiritual. That’s an issue for the church.” 

Voter trends

Hispanic voters

2004: 44% Bush; 53% Kerry

2008: 32% McCain; 66% Obama

2012: 27% Romney; 71% Obama

Republican support from this growing population is in free fall. This year 1 in 10 voters identified as Hispanic or Latino, an increase of 2 percentage points from 2004.

African-American voters

2004: 11% Bush 88% Kerry

2008: 4% McCain 95% Obama

2012: 6% Romney 93% Obama

African-Americans overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic candidate. They represented 13 percent of the electorate this year, up from 11 percent in 2004.

Young voters

2004: 43% Bush 56% Kerry

2008: 32% McCain 66% Obama

2012: 36% Romney 60% Obama

Obama saw an explosion of support from voters between the ages of 18 and 24 in 2008, but their enthusiasm has waned. Support for Obama this year among white voters under 30 dropped 10 percentage points from four years ago.

White evangelical or born again

2004: 79% Bush 21% Kerry

2008: 74% McCain 24% Obama

2012: 78% Romney 21% Obama

Evangelicals turned out for Romney after McCain failed to excite many. White voters identifying themselves as "evangelical or born again Christian" represent 26 percent of the electorate, a slight increase from eight years ago.*

Whites, as percentage of voters

2004: 77%

2008: 74%

2012: 72%

Minorities are steadily increasing their representation at the polls. A preliminary analysis of election data by RealClearPolitics suggests over 6 million white voters from 2008 stayed home this year.

Jewish voters

2004: 22% Bush 77% Kerry

2008: 21% McCain 78% Obama

2012: 30% Romney 69% Obama

Jews make up only 2 percent of voters, but have remained reliably Democratic for decades. Romney's extensive outreach to Jews and Obama's troubled relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apparently contributed to this year's shift—the lowest support Jews have offered a Democratic presidential candidate since 1988.**

Source: National Election Pool exit polling • Percentages don't add up to 100% due to third party voters

(Source: National Election Pool/Pew Research Center)

** (Source: National Election Pool/The Solomon Project)

Ballot boxed

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH: Supporters of state-regulated marijuana celebrate in Denver.
Kathryn Scott Osler/Denver Post/AP
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH: Supporters of state-regulated marijuana celebrate in Denver.

Spiritual problems showed up at the ballot box in several states: Three states—Maryland, Maine, and Washington—upheld “gay marriage” in ballot initiatives. Minnesota voters voted down an amendment to the state constitution that would have permamently banned gay marriage. Other cultural trends: Two states—Colorado and Washington—approved the state-regulated growth and sale of marijuana. 

The results show that conservatives face significant challenges, regardless of political candidates. Michael Cromartie, director of the Evangelicals in Civic Life program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, says those challenges call for “real cultural persuasion” by religious conservatives.

“There needs to be modesty and humility in our presentation, without letting go of our core convictions,” he said. Evangelicals should adopt a style “that doesn’t just argue that this is important for us and our community—but that this is good for the larger community too.” —J.D.

Carolina red

McCrory and his wife Ann
Jeff Siner/The Charlotte Observer/AP
McCrory and his wife Ann

When Pat McCrory stepped on stage at the Westin Hotel in downtown Charlotte to declare victory in his race for North Carolina governor, it was the first time a Republican had done so in 20 years.

With Mitt Romney’s defeat at the top of the ticket, and the loss of seats in the House and Senate, it was also one of the few bright spots for Republicans on Election Day.

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) poured more than $6 million into McCrory’s race, and spent tens of millions more in other states. A total of 11 governors’ mansions were up for grabs. Democrats fought back GOP challenges in Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Delaware, Vermont, and Washington. Republicans retained their hold in North Dakota, Utah, and Indiana. 

So McCrory’s win was not part of a wave, but it could end up showing the GOP how to win in tough circumstances. McCrory billed himself as a new breed of Republican: conservative on social issues, but not afraid to use government money for economic development. As mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city, he frustrated GOP budget hawks by advocating government expenditures on mass transit and new sports venues. But McCrory also talks frequently about his Christian faith, earned the endorsement of NC Right To Life PAC, and supported North Carolina’s Amendment One, affirming traditional marriage.

Republicans now hold 30 governors’ mansions, and many of the rising stars of the party—including Indiana’s Mike Pence, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, and New Mexico’s Susanna Martinez—are developing chief executive experience. On a night Republicans didn’t have much to celebrate, Virginia Governor and RGA President Bob McDonnell made the most of the GOP’s single pick-up: “The Republican Party’s … ability to expand our majority provides optimism for the future.” —Warren Cole Smith

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD.

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