Black support for GOP ticked up in this year’s midterms

Dec 30, 2022, 7:21 AM | Updated: 9:29 pm
Janet Piroleau poses for a photo on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, at her home in Atlanta. Piroleau left ...

Janet Piroleau poses for a photo on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, at her home in Atlanta. Piroleau left the Democratic Party in 2016, during Trump’s first run for office, and now votes Republican. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

(AP Photo/Ben Gray)

              Pastor James Jackson, the lead pastor of Fervent Prayer Church, poses for a photo at the church, Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, in Indianapolis. Jackson is running for mayor of Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
            
              Pastor James Jackson, the lead pastor of Fervent Prayer Church, stands in the sanctuary at the church, Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, in Indianapolis. Jackson is running for mayor of Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
            
              Pastor James Jackson, the lead pastor of Fervent Prayer Church, stands outside of the church, Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, in Indianapolis. Jackson is running for mayor of Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
            
              Janet Piroleau poses for a photo on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, at her home in Atlanta. Piroleau left the Democratic Party in 2016, during Trump’s first run for office, and now votes Republican. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)
            
              Pastor James Jackson, the lead pastor of Fervent Prayer Church, poses for a photo at the church, Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, in Indianapolis. Jackson is running for mayor of Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
            
              Janet Piroleau poses for a photo on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, at her home in Atlanta. Piroleau left the Democratic Party in 2016, during Trump’s first run for office, and now votes Republican. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)
            April Chapman, a small business owner, poses for a photo Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, at her home in Conyers, Ga. Chapman who lives in metro Atlanta switched from Democrat to Republican after the 2012 election. (AP Photo/Ben Gray) April Chapman, a small business owner, poses for a photo Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, at her home in Conyers, Ga. Chapman who lives in metro Atlanta switched from Democrat to Republican after the 2012 election. (AP Photo/Ben Gray) April Chapman, a small business owner, poses for a photo Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, at her home in Conyers, Ga. Chapman who lives in metro Atlanta switched from Democrat to Republican after the 2012 election. (AP Photo/Ben Gray) April Chapman, a small business owner, poses for a photo Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, at her home in Conyers, Ga. Chapman who lives in metro Atlanta switched from Democrat to Republican after the 2012 election. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Black voters have been a steady foundation for Democratic candidates for decades, but that support appeared to show a few cracks in this year’s elections.

Republican candidates were backed by 14% of Black voters, compared with 8% in the last midterm elections four years ago, according to AP VoteCast, an extensive national survey of the electorate.

In Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp more than doubled his support among Black voters to 12% in 2022 compared with 5% four years ago, according to VoteCast. He defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams both times.

If that boost can be sustained, Democrats could face headwinds in 2024 in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, where presidential and Senate races are typically decided by narrow margins and turning out Black voters is a big part of Democrats’ political strategy.

It’s too early to tell whether the 2022 survey data reflects the beginnings of a longer-term drift of Black voters toward the GOP or whether the modest Republican gains from an overwhelmingly Democratic group will hold during a presidential year. Former President Donald Trump, who has announced his third run for the presidency, received support from just 8% of Black voters in 2020, according to VoteCast.

The survey from this year’s midterms also found that Republican candidates in some key states improved their share of Latino voters, so any sustained growth in the share of Black voters would be critical.

A variety of factors might play into the findings, including voter turnout and candidate outreach. Yet some Black voters suggest they will be sticking with Republicans because they said the party’s priorities resonate with them more than those of Democrats.

Janet Piroleau, who lives in suburban Atlanta, left the Democratic Party in 2016, during Trump’s first run for office, and now votes Republican. That includes this year, when she voted for Kemp in his victory over Abrams.

Piroleau said she felt Democrats were pushing for more reliance on government programs. “That bothered me,” she said.

“For me, it was about being accountable and responsible and making your own decisions, and not depending on the government to bail you out,” Piroleau said.

April Chapman, who lives in metro Atlanta, is among the Black voters who favored Kemp and other Republican candidates.

Like Piroleau, Chapman cited issues such as immigration, border security and the economy as important in deciding to become a Republican a decade ago. But the 43-year-old mother said her main break with the party is over education.

She said she felt Democrats were trying to control what her children should be exposed to and how they should be educated.

“For our family, the government educational system was not the best option,” Chapman said.

Camilla Moore, chair of the Georgia Black Republican Council, said a large percentage of the voters Kemp won in the Black community “were actually Black Democrats.” Those voters made decisions based on Kemp’s performance in addressing issues they care about, Moore said.

Her group also suggested that the Kemp campaign advertise on Black radio and “expend a little more effort in some areas that were a little uncomfortable.”

The results in Georgia, she said, could be replicated elsewhere with the right candidates.

“It’s not going to work for everybody,” Moore said. “It does work for those Republicans who have demonstrated that they truly are a senator for all or a governor for all.”

Abrams’ campaign office and Fair Fight Action, which was founded by Abrams, did not answer repeated phone or email messages.

The VoteCast findings underscore a dynamic that Black activists and community leaders have long sought to convey — that Black voters are not a monolith and that the Democratic Party should not take them for granted.

Nationally, Republicans worked during the midterms cycle to try to shift a share of Black voters to their side. The GOP conducted business roundtables, prayer gatherings, food drives and school choice events to hear the kinds of priorities in Black communities that might influence their voting, said Janiyah Thomas, a communications strategist and former Black media affairs manager at the Republican National Committee.

Thomas, who recently voted Republican, added that her disagreement with the Black Lives Matter movement encouraged her switch.

Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and the author of a book on the voting rights movement, said Black voters need to hear from Democrats about why their vote is important and what the party will do for them.

She said the message is particularly important for younger voters, who “went out in the street and risked their lives for police reform” after the killing of George Floyd in 2020. They also want voting rights protected but got neither at the federal level during President Joe Biden’s first two years in office.

“Instead, we get Juneteenth, and I don’t remember who asked for Juneteenth,” Browne-Marshall said, referring to the new federal holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in America.

W. Franklyn Richardson, chair of the board of trustees of the Conference of National Black Churches, acknowledged that not all Black community priorities are met by Democrats but said the party is more likely to address those needs than Republicans.

“We have to pick the best of the two,” and continue pushing, he said.

For James W. Jackson, the choice was to switch to the Republican Party after he decided its values better aligned with his.

The pastor at Fervent Prayer Church in Indianapolis said he was a Democrat initially because it was the party of his father and many prominent Black leaders.

Not everyone sees a noteworthy shift of Black voters away from Democrats and toward Republicans. Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, said his question isn’t about what Democrats have failed to do, but rather what they have accomplished and not been more vocal about.

The agenda Biden has pursued since taking office “was fairly explicit about a number of key issues that relate to Black people. The problem is that because there is a hesitancy and a concern about whether or not white voters will be turned off,” Democrats have not promoted those moves, Daniels said.

Biden, he noted, named Kamala Harris as vice president, nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court and appointed Lisa Cook to the Federal Reserve. He also noted the impact of the American Rescue Plan on Black business owners.

“The fact of the matter is, they’re not talking about the tangible things that happened,” Daniels said.

The higher percentages of Black voters casting ballots for Republicans this year also may not suggest greater and more durable support for the GOP, said Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO.

He noted that African Americans are a diverse voting group with varying concerns and priorities, and are attracted to specific candidates because of that. NAACP focus groups found that inflation, student loan debt and violence prevention were among Black voters’ top concerns. Candidates who speak to those concerns will be heard, he said.

“That’s what democracy should be — an opportunity to have choices among candidates,” Johnson said. “But that is not to suggest the national (Republican) party platform is more reflective of the needs and interests of African Americans as a whole.”

___

Associated Press writer Hannah Fingerhut in Washington contributed to this report.

___

Associated Press coverage of race and voting receives support from the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif., Sept. 24, 201...
Associated Press

Google hopes ‘Bard’ will outsmart ChatGPT, Microsoft in AI

Google is girding for a battle of wits in the field of artificial intelligence with “Bard," a conversational service apparently aimed at countering the popularity of the ChatGPT tool backed by Microsoft.
15 hours ago
FILE - A Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle, Se...
Associated Press

Boeing plans to cut about 2,000 finance and HR jobs in 2023

Boeing plans to make staffing cuts in the aerospace company's finance and human resources departments in 2023, with a loss of around 2,000 jobs
15 hours ago
(Jennifer Bakos via AP)...
Associated Press

1 missing, 2 rescued from crab boat off Washington coast

A crew member remains missing and two others were rescued from crab boat that sank near Willapa Bay in southwest Washington on Sunday evening, according to the Coast Guard.
15 hours ago
child marriages...
Associated Press

Proposed bill would pay incarcerated workers minimum wage

A Washington state lawmaker who has spent time in prison wants the state to pay incarcerated workers minimum wage for doing their jobs.
15 hours ago
FILE - In this image from video released and partially redacted by the city of Memphis, Tenn., Tyre...
Associated Press

13 Memphis officers could be disciplined in Nichols case

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Thirteen Memphis officers could end up being disciplined in connection with the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols, officials said Tuesday, as city council members expressed frustration with the police and fire chiefs during a meeting for not moving quickly on policy reforms following the brutal beating. Six officers already have been […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

How major US stock indexes fared Tuesday 2/7/2023

Stocks closed higher on Wall Street after the head of the Federal Reserve signaled last week’s stunningly strong jobs report isn’t likely to change where interest rates are heading on its own, as some investors had feared. The S&P 500, the Nasdaq and the Dow rose. Comments from Fed chief Jerome Powell sent stocks from […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Black support for GOP ticked up in this year’s midterms