With his visit to Universal Bluford Charter School in West Philadelphia on May 24, the Romney campaign fired the first salvo in their battle to draw African American voters into the Republican camp. Although it was met with some criticism which bordered on hostility, the visit – according to campaign members – is an important signal to both minority voters and suburban independents that the Romney camp takes minority issues seriously.
Minority votes were a big part of President Obama’s success in 2008, particularly in heavily Republican states like North Carolina. Overall, 96% of Black voters chose Obama in the last election. The Romney camp knows it must appeal to this voting demographic if it hopes to win the election.
By reaching out to urban minorities, Romney also hopes to strengthen his appeal to independents. Many independent voters, particularly those in the suburbs, believe they are open-minded and sensitive to the plight of inner city residents. Romney’s strategy to court African Americans is also intended in part to show the voters that he is sympathetic to minority concerns.
In particular, the Romney campaign intends to hit hard on the economy, which has disproportionately harmed the Black community. By focusing on the 13% unemployment rate for African Americans, Romney hopes to assign the blame to Obama’s policies and how they have adversely affected Blacks.
Obama’s recent stance in favor of gay marriage is another issue on which the Romney campaign hopes to capitalize. Although the President reached out to conservative Black pastors prior to announcing his decision, gay rights are a volatile issue with conservative Christians. By highlighting to the Black community his opposition to gay marriage, Romney intends to whittle away at minority support. At the very least, the campaign hopes the issue will lead conservative Blacks to at least consider Romney’s candidacy.
Read more at The Washington Post.