January 31, 2006
For Blackwell and Swann, 2006 May Be Different
we may learn more about why so many black Americans see Republicans
as their enemy, and whether there is anything the GOP can do about
serious African-American Republican candidates for governor in
Pennsylvania and Ohio. How they fare, among black voters and conservative
whites, will tell us about 21st Century politics in an increasingly
racially diverse country.
say their typical 90 percent of the black vote stems from the
GOP using racially tinged issues to win white voters -three-quarters
of the national electorate.
argue, and the polling supports this view, that blacks see a larger
role for government than do whites, while the GOP more favors
states we will see if the heavily white GOP rank-and-file will
back credible blacks who share their philosophy, and perhaps whether
a serious black Republican candidate can get more than a smattering
of African-American votes in November.
two decades, national GOP leaders handpicked black sacrificial
lamb candidate in races no Republican could win. Those candidates
generally got the 10-15 percent of the black vote white Republicans
may be different.
in Ohio and Lynn Swann in Pennsylvania lead polls of Republicans
in advance of spring primaries.
mega-swing states where the governorship is what matters since
the chief executive controls patronage, judicial appointments
and multibillion-dollar budgets.
for the Republican Party's future is not so much whether Blackwell
and Swann win in November - although that would be a heck of a
statement - but if they win the primaries in which the electorate
is virtually all white.
is clearly the most conservative candidate --generally the key
in a GOP primary.
lead is at least partially due to his name recognition as a former
Western Pennsylvania football legend for his years as a Pittsburgh
Steeler Hall-of-Fame wide receiver, and ABC football commentator.
wins nomination, it will challenge the notion that the GOP is
an all-white party. Even if one, or both, does so, it is an open
question whether either can do better than the paltry black vote
Republicans typically get.
and Pennsylvania have black populations smaller than the national
average. Virginia, which elected African-American Democrat Doug
Wilder as governor in 1989, has a larger than average black population.
Blackwell nor Swann are running as black Republicans. They are
running as mainstream conservatives who happen to be black.
is secretary of state and a former state treasurer, a fiscal conservative
and the strongest abortion foe in the race. Half of Ohio GOP voters
describe themselves as "strongly pro life" in a poll
commissioned by Blackwell's opponent, Attorney General Jim Petro,
who once backed abortion rights but now opposes them.
GOP hopeful, State Auditor Betty Montgomery, the moderate in the
race, recently abandoned her candidacy.
nomination may not be as valuable in historically GOP-leaning
Ohio as in past years due to a scandal that has made Republican
Bob Taft the nation's most unpopular governor.
won four Super Bowls in a nine-year pro career, has worked for
ABC since his 1983 football retirement. Swann has never run for
public office, but has been active in GOP politics and campaigned
for President Bush in 2004.
Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who became the governors
of Minnesota and California, Swann must translate celebrity into
he is doing ok. A Quinnipiac University poll showed Swann leading
former Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton, the son of a former governor, by
10 points in the GOP race. Polls disagree who would win a November
face-off of Swann and Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.
Ventura and Schwarzenegger, is a good communicator without a political
paper trail. He says he is anti abortion and pro-business, but
has been vague otherwise.
and Swann can win lily-white GOP primaries, and if so, whether
normally Democratic black voters will cross over to vote for one
of their own, makes these races worth watching.
A. Brown is assistant director of the Quinnipiac University
Polling Institute. He can be reached at email@example.com