Juan Williams must have been sipping the Kool-Aid over at Fox News. He's got an op-ed in today's NYT arguing that "President Bush could win at least 20 percent of the black vote and the White House."
In the immortal words of Wayne Campbell, "Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt." Twenty percent would be double the 10 percent Bush got in 2000 and more than any Republican presidential candidate since Richard Nixon in 1960.
Williams points to a 2002 survey showing a decrease in Democratic party identification among black voters. But 2002 was the high tide of Bush's popularity. 9/11 was still a strong memory and the controversies over Iraq had yet to assert themselves. More recent polls show that black voters are strongly critical of the Bush administration. According to the latest Washington Post poll, only 12 percent of black approve of Bush's overall job as president, only 11 percent approve of his handling of the economy, only 6(!) percent approve of his handling of Iraq. Overall, only 6(!!) percent of blacks say that they would vote for Bush for president this fall. This number is even lower than the abysmal 10 percent of the black vote that Bush received in 2000. In fact, this number is so low that it is statistically indistinguishable from zero!
Of course, Williams claims that this could all change if Bush were to start visiting black churches. But that's like saying that if Kerry were to visit Bob Jones University he could double his support among white evangelicals.
Since at least the 1970s, and probably before, commentators have been expounding on how the GOP could gain a larger share of the black vote, but it's never happened. Remember how people thought their 2000 convention would boost Republicans among black voters? Didn't quite work out that way, did it? The real issue is not how the GOP can get black votes, but why pundits keep making these predictions despite all the evidence to the contrary.