Race Card Not Working
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BY JAMES TARANTO
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
The Truth about Race in America
What does Hurricane Katrina tell us about race in America? A new Gallup poll is informative:
"Six in 10 African-Americans say the fact that most hurricane victims were poor and black was one reason the federal government failed to come to the rescue more quickly. Whites reject that idea; nearly 9 in 10 say those weren't factors. . . .
"Republican efforts this year to reach out to black voters have not been helped. . . . By more than 3-to-1, [blacks] say Bush doesn't care about black people. By more than 2-to-1, whites say he does."
Let's look more closely at these two questions, which are questions 14 and 3, respectively, in the poll results. By 60% to 37%, blacks think the government was slow in rescuing Katrina victims for racial reasons; by 86% to 12%, whites do not think so. By 72% to 21%, blacks think President Bush does not care about black people. By 67% to 26%, whites think he does care.
...[A] vast majority of blacks (72%) disagree with a solid majority of the overall population (60%) on the question of whether Bush cares, and a solid majority of blacks (60%) disagree with an overwhelming majority of the overall population (78%) on the question of whether the rescue was racist.
The truth about race that Katrina illuminates, then, is that, at least when it comes to matters involving race, black Americans are extreme political outliers. This is why attempts to play the race card are politically futile: They have to appeal not just to blacks, but to a substantial minority of whites. The Gallup poll results makes clear that the current racial appeals are not resonating with whites.
See also The Truth about Race in America-- II, and
The Truth about Race in America-- III