Forecast

Mitt Romney's zero percent support from blacks: Can he still win?

A new poll shows President Obama clobbering his Republican challenger among minorities, leaving the GOP campaign increasingly reliant on an all-white strategy

A new poll from The Wall Street Journal and NBC shows that President Obama is simply crushing Mitt Romney among black voters, roughly 94 percent to 0 percent. You read that correctly — Romney has "got nuthin', zilch, nient, a big fat 0 percent," says Jonathan Capehart at The Washington Post, in what's shaping up to be a first in modern history. (Even John McCain mustered 4 percent of the black vote in 2008, running against America's first black presidential candidate.) Hoping to make Romney appear more inclusive, the GOP convention is featuring speeches by African-Americans including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, as well as other minority notables. But it's increasingly clear Romney can't count on significant black support come November. Will it hurt his chances?

Yes. Romney is too reliant on white voters: With such scant minority support, Romney "will have to pull in 61 percent of the white vote [to win], more than any modern Republican except Reagan in 1984," says Andrew Romano at The Daily Beast. As the country "grows more diverse, the white share of the electorate continues to shrink," and its political influence has waned. Romney's non-existent support among blacks "would have been bad news for a Republican 25 years ago; in 2012, it could prove fatal." 
"Will Paul Ryan help Romney with blue-collar whites?"

He can still win with a predominantly white coalition: Romney's only hope is to "grind out a narrow win by building outward from [the GOP's] older, white male voter base," says Thomas F. Schaller at Salon. While the Republican National Convention features a "window-dressing" of racial diversity, Romney's campaign strategy is to pit the white middle class against the minority poor on issues like welfare, abortion, health care, and immigration. Worse, Romney and the GOP are "implicitly if not openly supporting state-level voter ID requirements" that would disenfranchise "younger, poorer, and non-white" voters. This year, there are still enough white voters that Mitt's strategy just might work.
"Republican National Convention: Heart of whiteness"

Regardless, the GOP has to change: Given the country's inexorably changing demographics, this will likely be the last time a Republican candidate gambles a presidential election on "a near total reliance on white votes," says Jonathan Chait at New York. "Future generations of GOP politicians will have to appeal to nonwhite voters who hold far more liberal views about the role of government than does the party's current base." Soon enough, "there will simply be, from the right-wing perspective, too many of them and not enough us."
"Team Romney white-vote push: 'This is the last time anyone will try to do this"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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