David Frum

12.15.12

The GOP's Socially Conservative Minority Voter Cargo Cult

Walter Olson skewers Republicans for creating a cargo cult around minority voters, believing that "If only [religious hispanics and African-Americans] realized Republicans agree with them on issues like gay marriage and school prayer," said voters would become card carrying Republicans. To prove the fallacy of said cargo cult, Olson goes into the numbers. The example from Prince George's County, Maryland is quite illuminating:

Let’s give the Social Conservative Minority Realignment Thesis its best shot, and look at the ten P.G. precincts that voted most heavily (58+%) against Question 6. Three of these 10 precincts were from areas of the county with many whites (two at the county’s rural southeast fringe, one in Lanham) and as one would expect, Republicans did okay there (though still not well enough to win). The other seven precincts were largely black; in other words, of all the largely black precincts in Prince George’s County, these were the seven most strongly opposed to gay marriage. If any movement toward GOP realignment were gathering force among socially conservative blacks, you’d expect to pick up signs of it in these seven precincts. The precincts voted as follows: for Romney, 5, 3, 3, 6, 3, 5, and 10 percent; and for the GOP’s senate candidate, 4, 3, 3, 3, 2, 4, and 7 percent. (The last of the 7 precincts is not far from the University of Maryland, which may explain its wider range of voting diversity.)

In other words, the black precincts in P.G. with the strongest inclination toward social conservatism, as measured by their sentiments on gay marriage, gave Republican candidates a vote percentage more often associated with Libertarian candidates and rounding errors.