Ahead of tonight’s Republican debate some conservatives might be thinking that Herman Cain could bring in some African American voters, but according to PPP survey of South Carolina, Obama destroys Cain with African American voters, 93%-4%.
PPP tested the idea that Herman Cain would be popular with African-Americans in their latest South Carolina poll. The pollster found that Cain had only a 12% approval rating with African Americans and a 52% disapproval rating.
Overall, Cain is a relative unknown in the state. He has a 26% favorable rating, a 35% unfavorable rating, and 39% were not sure. Obama beats Cain 43%-40% head to head, but it is clear that most of that support is coming from white male Republicans. (Cain’s favorability with women in the state is only 21%).
Since Obama was elected in 2008, the constant conservative assumption has been that African Americans support Obama because he is black. It is this belief that makes some Republicans think that Herman Cain is a viable candidate for 2012, which is just like how they assumed that women would vote for Sarah Palin because she is a woman in 2008. In case you don’t remember how that one turned out, women voted 56%-43%, and unmarried women, 70%-29% for Obama.
Republicans like to comfort themselves with the thought that Obama’s 2008 victory was a novelty based on race, but just like women, African Americans aren’t stupid. All Americans minority or not look for a candidate that speaks to them about the issues that they care most about. If Republicans want African-Americans to support them, instead of floating a gimmick like Herman Cain, they should be talking about the issues that are most important to African American voters.
Barack Obama was elected because he was trying to talk to all Americans, but Republicans would rather support novelty candidates like Cain and Palin than have a discussion outside of their older, white, male base.
It doesn’t matter what race the Republican nominee is if they are not talking to voters about their top issue. Herman Cain has shown himself to be more than willing to carry the Republican message. For example’s his comments published on Bloomberg today that,
“Barack Obama is more of an international,” Cain said. “I think he’s out of the mainstream and always has been. Look, he was raised in Kenya, his mother was white from Kansas and her family had an influence on him, it’s true, but his dad was Kenyan, and when he was going to school he got a lot of fellowships, scholarships, he stayed in the academic environment for a long time. He spent most of his career as an intellectual.”
It is not about race. African Americans and millions of other voters support Obama because of his politics, not his skin color. Some on the right have been delegitimizing Obama for so long that they have convinced themselves that he was elected because he is black. They cynically believe that putting another minority on the ballot against Obama is their path to victory, but as the South Carolina poll illustrated African America voters aren’t going to be fooled by camouflaging the same old Republican message in a different color.
Barack Obama beat John McCain 95%-4% with African American voters in 2008, and Herman Cain got the same percentage with African Americans in 2011.
If the GOP wants the support of African American voters they should stop trying to trick them, and actually talk to them.