In a recent report released by the Census Bureau report stating that African-Americans voted at a higher rate than any other ethnic group in the 2012 presidential election. Can African-Americans maximize their power at the polls?
This week’s Washington Watch roundtable features political analyst and Georgetown University professor, Dr. Chris Metzler; Angela Rye, co-founder and principal at IMPACT Strategies; Charles Lollar, Maryland State Director of Americans for Prosperity and George Curry, syndicated columnist for the National Newspaper Publishers Association.
MR. MARTIN: Welcome back, folks.
Joining me here in the roundtable: political analyst and Georgetown University professor – and his dressing has drastically improved since “Washington Watch” has come on the air – Dr. Chris Metzler –
DR. CHRIS METZLER: [Chuckles.]
MR. MARTIN: — Angela Rye, co-founder and principal at IMPACT Strategies; Charles Lollar, Maryland State Director of Americans for Prosperity, with that boring, white pocket square –
MR. MARTIN: — and George Curry, syndicated columnist for the National Newspaper Publishers Association.
MR. MARTIN: And, Charles, you’re a newbie here. [It’s your] first time. And do understand the white pocket square[’s] a little boring on this show.
MR. MARTIN: That’s other Sunday morning news shows. This is TV One, “Washington Watch.” A lot more color and flava here, so –
MR. MARTIN: — the next time you come on, lose the white pocket square.
MR. MARTIN: Let’s get right into it.
The panel we just finished talking to, we were dealing with this whole issue of black turnout in 2012. Significant numbers in terms of surpassing white folks who voted in 2012 as well.
Now, what’s interesting to me [is] folks are saying, “Well, what’s going to happen in ’16?” and the reality is President Obama’s not going to be on the ballot in 2016. So, what does this say for the future for African-Americans when you look at the turnout in ’12 but also ’08?
MS. ANGELA RYE: A couple of things. One is we’ve been talking about it ad nauseam, but the GOP has an outreach plan they’ve put together that’s going to cost in excess of $11 million. Needless to say, the Democrats will also have to put forth some realistic outreach plan to ensure that African-Americans continue to vote in large numbers.
I think it wasn’t just the fact that the President was on the ballot. It was also the fact that in several states throughout the country, there were these egregious voter suppression laws that we saw throughout several state legislatures and, as a result, we have in our history and in our culture the desire to want to fight back against something.
MR. MARTIN: Right, and we confronted[?] a whole lot of that in 2012, but that hasn’t stopped because even though Republicans will admit, “Um, yeah, we kind of screwed up with the voters with those pieces,” look what’s happening in North Carolina right now.
OFF CAMERA: Sure.
MR. MARTIN: So, look what happened in Arkansas passing a voter ID law. [The] governor said, “I’m vetoing it.” They overrode his veto. So, it’s not as if Republican legislatures have stopped passing such laws, but the question is, “Will black folks be as aggressive in turning out in the future elections?”
MR. GEORGE CURRY: I think so. I think you don’t just look at Obama. You look at the last five presidential elections. You see the numbers have been going up, and you also see the white share decreasing. And you’re going to continue to see that, but you still don’t see the Hispanic part. You’re seeing numbers, but you don’t see the voting reflected the same way. So, that, to me, says we still have enormous clout.
MR. MARTIN: But, Charles and Chris, if you’re a Republican, you could say, “Look what happened in the 2010 midterms.” And so the issue for me is not what happens in presidential years. For me, this is saying to black folks, “You have shown your power, so why in the hell you can’t do it in midterm years, in school board races, city council races, state rep [and] state senate races, where all of those positions matter as well?”
DR. METZLER: Right.
MR. CHARLES J. LOLLAR: I think even more so – and, first, as a newbie, let me thank you so much for the opportunity to grace your presence. But I think even more so than that, we’re seeing a transition – we really are – specifically, in black America. Not just much more than an intelligent awakening of the voting power and the voting strength – all the things that our past – our Founding Fathers, like Martin Luther King and others, have stated about – having that right and freedom to vote, but much more of an intellectual voter coming forward. I can see more and more, both on the Republican and Democrat and, quite frankly, independent side where black America – they’re going to vote. They’re going to vote strong, and it’s going to be a much more educated vote that is much more concerned about taxes. They are much more concerned about the economics in their community and how to get elected and change that culture. We’re going to see that more and more and more and more. I think that’s a great thing –
MR. MARTIN: George?
MR. LOLLAR: — across the board.
MR. CURRY: What do you mean “a more educated voter”? I don’t understand that. Hold on. Time out. As though we’ve not been educated? We understand –
MR. LOLLAR: No, don’t mislead.
MR. CURRY: — no, no, no.
MR. LOLLAR: Don’t mislead.
MR. CURRY: No, no. Don’t – no –
MR. LOLLAR: [Crosstalk] –
MR. CURRY: — I didn’t interrupt you.
MR. LOLLAR: — don’t mislead.
MR. MARTIN: George –
MR. CURRY: I want to finish my –
MR. MARTIN: — then Charles.
MR. CURRY: — point. I didn’t mislead anything. I’m going to make my point.
We’ve been very educated all along. We wish we had a viable option. There is no viable option out there when it comes to issues affecting African-Americans.
MR. LOLLAR: — well – and I just want to make sure that we’re clear. Not to harp on this –
MR. CURRY: I’m clear.
MR. LOLLAR: — but let’s not mislead. I’m not talking about the fact that we, as African-Americans aren’t intelligent. We are intelligent, but when we talk about going through the who’s on the ballot, who can actually make change in our communities – because you’re right. In some regards, we haven’t had a real clear choice. That’s why in many occasions, we’ve flipped to the Democratic Party. We’re seeing more and more black Americans become more and more independent in their politics. They’re not even playing the political game.
They’re going to – when I say a much more intellectual voter, I mean across the board. We’re going to weigh our options. Who’s Democrat? Who’s independent? Who’s Republican? And here’s the bottom line: “What are they doing for my community?”
MS. RYE: [Crosstalk] –
MR. LOLLAR: “How is m community going to be better” –
MR. MARTIN: Angela then Chris.
MR. LOLLAR: — “as a result of this?”
MS. RYE: So, Democrats and black Democrats are – since you’re saying that they switched from the Republican Party – which I’ve not seen any data on – but what I will ask is this: how do you explain the 90 percent-plus vote that the President got that is African-American? If they’re switching from Republican and independent to vote for the President? Are you –
MR. LOLLAR: No.
MS. RYE: — saying they’re switching back –
MR. LOLLAR: What I am saying, clearly – let me answer the first question. Absolutely came out in 90 percent numbers to vote for the President – President Barack Obama – for many obvious reasons. A wonderful opportunity. So many things changed when this gentleman entered into the White House, and so many stereotypes were broken down. I mean we can talk that game all day, and we’re actually on the same side of the road.
But when I talk about in transitioning, what I’m seeing – especially in Maryland, in Prince George’s County and Baltimore City – is many more African-Americans saying, “You know what? I’m not necessarily tied to a party. You’re not going to take my vote for granted. I’m going to look at the entire” –
MS. RYE: I live in Prince George’s –
MR. LOLLAR: — [crosstalk] –
MR. MARTIN: [Crosstalk] – no. It is –
MS. RYE: — County –
MR. MARTIN: First of all –
MS. RYE: — so, I – [crosstalk].
MR. MARTIN: — first of all, it is true that when you look at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, they’ve done this analysis where an increasing number of African-Americans are not self-identifying as Democrats –
MR. LOLLAR: — right.
MR. MARTIN: — or as Republicans; but when it is time to vote, Chris, they are making decisions saying, “Who is speaking to the issues that I am concerned about?”
MR. LOLLAR: That’s right.
MR. MARTIN: And the reality is Republicans have ignored African-Americans, ignored those issues; and so those folks say, “I might have even given you a shot” –
OFF CAMERA: Absolutely – [crosstalk].
MR. MARTIN: — “but since you didn’t even talk to me” –
DR. METZLER: Yeah.
MR. MARTIN: — “you won’t even get my vote.”
DR. METZLER: Yeah, so I think it is, in fact, identification; and I think it’s issues-based.
And the other thing is, to this point of this $11-million investment the Republican Party has made, it’s a joke. When you look at the total of $11 million and how much of that actually is going to be spent on outreach – and, as a matter of fact, as Republicans, we have to go back to what the message is. I don’t care if you have $11 million. You have $11 million without a message.
MS. RYE: Right.
DR. METZLER: And what is that going to give you?
OFF CAMERA: Right.
DR. METZLER: Zero.
OFF CAMERA: Right.
DR. METZLER: The numbers are not going –
OFF CAMERA: Right.
DR. METZLER: — to move.
MR. MARTIN: But, George, I[’ve] got to throw out, though, how do we get black folks to understand that if you did it in ’08, and if you did it in ’12, you can also do it in gubernatorial races, state races, DA races, judges? Because we can’t talk about a criminal justice system and ignore it if we’re voting for DAs and judges.
OFF CAMERA: Yeah.
MR. CURRY: No, I totally agree with you, but the problem we have is larger than that. It’s not just African-Americans; it’s America, period.
MR. MARTIN: No, no, no.
MS. RYE: Absolutely.
MR. MARTIN: I don’t care about everybody else!
MR. CURRY: [Laughs.]
MR. MARTIN: No, no, no, because I’m saying if you look at our voting numbers, and if you look at it in these various states where we have significant – George, some 800,000 African-Americans who’re –
MR. CURRY: Oh, no question!
MS. RYE: Exactly right.
MR. MARTIN: — unregistered. So, the point I’m making is if white folks keep voting the same way they’re voting, getting African-Americans to understand we could flip many races –
OFF CAMERA: Right.
MR. MARTIN: — on [the] state and local level if we’re voting our numbers.
MR. CURRY: Yeah, and I totally agree, and that means we[’ve] got to do a better job of tying that together because, really, it’d have more a[n] impact on the local level than you do on the national level – [crosstalk].
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MR. CURRY: But I want to go past Chris’ point. I totally agree with Chris on that but the problem is fundamental. It’s not how much money you spend on outreach. The problem is your record. If you look at the NAACP report card, every Republican got an F – every one! And so you could have all the outreach you want. If you’re not voting in concert with what African-Americans perceive to be their best interests, you’re going to lose.
DR. METZLER: [Crosstalk] – you know –
MR. MARTIN: Hold tight. Hold tight.
DR. METZLER: — [crosstalk] –
MR. MARTIN: Hold tight, ’cause I’m not getting an F in paying bills. Be back in one second.