Evidence on Black Voter Turnout Mixed

WASHINGTON (AP) — Maryland's newly elected lieutenant governor, Republican Michael Steele, says he found younger black men open to his campaign message that they should consider what the GOP have to offer.

Another black elected official, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., makes the case that his party is the only one looking out for the interests of black people.

``African-American men between 25 and 40 responded to our views on entrepreneurship and wealth creation,'' Steele said. He said the campaign offered a valuable opportunity ``for our point of view to reach a segment of the population that seems willing to listen.''

Conyers, dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the Republican success in Nov. 5 elections should make blacks concerned.

``If you're not feeling a little nervous ... you need to see a doctor,'' he said Thursday at a forum on the elections and the black community. He added that Republican of both the House and Senate means that ``every right-wing idea'' will now be pushed.

Conyers contended that the Democratic candidate for governor of Maryland, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, ``was too dumb to put an African-American on the ticket.'' Her opponent, GOP Rep. Robert Ehrlich chose Steele, and the team won the election in a heavily Democratic state.

David Bositis, a researcher at the Joint Center on Political and Economic Studies, says his research suggests that black turnout was the same as 1998, but white Republican turnout was higher. He said it appears it was slightly higher in some states, slightly lower in others, but was about the same overall.

This was the only point on which Conyers and Steele agreed.

A separate study of Latino and immigrant vote in the 2002 midterm elections by the National Council of La Raza found that those groups made a difference in races such as the defeat of an anti-bilingual education measure in Colorado and the election of Janet Napolitano as Arizona's governor.

The council's study also found that voters in these groups can identify with a candidate of another party if the candidate addresses issues important to their communities. For example, New York Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, got significant Hispanic and immigrant support because of his opposition to U.S. bombing training on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, the group found.

Back to home page