Black Folks Voting Republican In Virginia?

Recent polling in the Virginia Gubernatorial race has indicated that Bob McDonnell, the republican candidate is drawing strong support from the black community -Bob McDonnell

The latest SurveyUSA poll showing Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell with a 19% lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds (which would be the biggest win for any Virginia Governor of either party since 1961) has some interesting internals.  One of the strangest findings is that McDonnell is getting 31% of the African American vote.

Is this possible?  Well, the smart money would say no.  But if you want to construct an argument for SurveyUSA being correct, consider the following:

(1) In 2006, George Allen came about as close as he could have come to dropping an “n-bomb” on a person of color without actually saying that particular word.  Throughout the campaign, Democrats consistently brought up racial incidents in Allen’s past.  And the Republican label was radioactive nationally.  Allen still got 15% of the black vote.

(2) Doug Wilder’s (Virginia’s first black governor and former mayor of Richmond) non-endorsement of Deeds has received a ton of attention.

(3) McDonnell has been competing quietly for the black vote in his commercials.  One advertisement has featured businesswoman Sheila Johnson, a Democrat who endorsed McDonnell, while another features numerous African American Deputy and Assistant Attorneys General.

If a Republican were to receive 31% of the black vote in Virginia, one would expect some combination of factors like those listed above.  That said, 31% would be a phenomenally high result for a Republican gubernatorial candidate anywhere…

This one from RCP is missing several reasons black Virginians will vote for a Republican, and McDonnell in particular -

  • Despite his connections to Regent University and Pat Robertson, McDonnell so far in his elected legislative life, has principally focused on laws which have to do with the business of the State, instead of trying to foist the “Republican neo-confederate – christian agenda” down folks throats. His legislative efforts have been on bills going after cyber criminals and sexual predators.
  • Virginia is a moderate state, with one of the highest percentages of Veterans (17%) as a portion of the population in the United States.
  • McDonnell is from Northern Virginia, where he grew up – and as such isn’t seen as part of the downstate neo-confederate racists like George Allen and Jim Gillmore. There isn’t any evidence of McDonnell being a part of, or a supporter of the racial conservative segment of the Republican Party.
  • Instead of running around  pissing everybody off talking about whack-job “conservative values” which everybody knows as code for racism, sexism, and homophobia – McDonnell has laid out specific plans addressing issues important to the more progressive, populous, and wealthier parts of the state such as Northern Virginia and South Eastern Hampton/Virginia Beach (traffic congestion, subway, and road expansion)… and jobs. Those issues affect everyone in those regions.
  • McDonnell is seen as solidly pro-business, which includes in this case strong support for small business. That is fundamentally different from the national Republican party which screws over small business to the benefit of big business. Which, since McDonnell isn’t one of those neo-confederate conservative racist type Republicans, unlike in the previous Gillmore and Allen Governorships before the Dems won back the Governorship for two terms – keeps black owned small business on an even footing with everybody else. And it really is all about getting fair treatment – not special treatment.
  • Lastly, and most important – there isn’t any indication so far, that a McDonnell win means the neo-confederate racist Republicans will be “gifted” with appointed positions controlling the State’s apparatus, again. His history has been to pick his staff based on strength, not ideology.

And back to that Wilder thing – Sheila Johnson doesn’t have any traction with anyone except maybe the Middleburg Millionaires Breakfast Club – but Doug Wilder does.

The fact that he can’t find reason to oppose McDonnell, and support the Democrat Creigh Deeds is telling.

So I think there is a very good chance McDonnell could get 25% or better of the black vote.

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