How the Black Vote Became a Monolith


Instead, Democratic nationwide management made the first daring transfer. A yr earlier than the 1948 presidential election, noting the success of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal electoral coalition, a campaign-strategy memo drafted by Clark Clifford and James Rowe, advisers to President Truman, argued that “the Northern Negro voter today holds the balance of power in presidential elections for the simple arithmetical reason that the Negroes not only vote in a bloc but are geographically concentrated in pivotal, large and closely contested electoral states such as New York Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.” Truman’s determination to signal govt orders desegregating the army and the federal work power was an electoral broadside constructed, partially, to assist win over the help of northern Black voters.

It labored. Truman received 77 p.c of Black voters, and with them the Great Migration vacation spot states of Illinois and Ohio by simply a mixed 40,000 votes — and these states’ electoral votes offered the margin of victory. The well-known image of the re-elected president holding up the faulty newspaper headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” exists largely as a result of Dewey, the Republican governor of New York, with a stable report on civil rights, had grown all of the sudden lukewarm on the problem, making halfhearted appeals to Black voters in the North whereas growing entreaties to white conservatives in the South.

The election consequence was proof of the new electoral benefit Black solidarity supplied a occasion keen to ship racially progressive insurance policies. And the determination of many Southern Democrats, upset with the occasion’s formal embrace of civil rights at that yr’s Democratic National Convention, to mount a third-party presidential bid that yr hinted that an opposing bloc of more and more disgruntled white segregationists was looking for a new dwelling.

The Democrats’ and Republicans’ nationwide platforms on this interval usually addressed civil rights in nearly equal measure, and typically Republicans had been extra progressive on the query. President Dwight Eisenhower declared in the 1950s that racial segregation harmed the nation’s safety pursuits. Deploying the 101st Airborne to implement the integration of Little Rock High School in 1957, he warned that “our enemies are gloating over this incident and using it everywhere to misrepresent our whole nation.” Richard Nixon held positions on civil rights much like John F. Kennedy’s throughout the 1960 presidential marketing campaign, and received almost a third of the Black vote that yr (although in the South, the place the majority of the Black inhabitants nonetheless lived, Black voters had been successfully barred from the polls).

It was the final time a Republican would win greater than 15 p.c of the Black vote in a presidential election. Stumping for Nixon in 1960, Senator Barry Goldwater, the Arizona Republican, declared that “there’s hardly enough difference between Republican conservatives and the Southern Democrats to put a piece of paper between.” When Goldwater grew to become the 1964 Republican presidential nominee and voiced his opposition to the Civil Rights Act, Black voters bunched themselves into the Democratic Party for good, supporting Lyndon Johnson at a fee comparable with Barack Obama’s almost a half-century later.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, in the meantime, significantly expanded the Black voters — voter-registration charges amongst nonwhites leapt to 59.eight p.c in 1967 from 6.7 p.c in Mississippi; to 51.6 p.c from 19.three p.c in Alabama; and to 52.6 p.c from 27.four p.c in Georgia. Black turnout soared. And George Wallace’s third-party candidacy for president in 1968, operating on a segregation platform and successful 5 states in the course of, was the final gasp for segregationists working exterior of the two-party system.

Within a decade, white Southern Democrats had been responding favorably to the appeals of the Republican Party. Richard Nixon’s “law and order” chorus and Ronald Reagan’s renewed name for “states’ rights” had been racialized, implicitly speaking opposition to progressive insurance policies like busing and tapping into anxieties about a quickly integrating society. With explicitly racist appeals now socially taboo, symbolic and ostensibly colorblind gestures made the transition simpler by reframing the race query as one about free-market rules, private duty and authorities nonintervention. Racial segregation might be achieved with out brazenly championing it; the social hierarchy maintained with out evangelizing it. American voters, Black and white alike, acquired the message.



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Shekh Shahrukh

Shekh Shahrukh is a digital marketer, Entrepreneur, and a Journalism student at Delhi University. A news writer by day and news seeker by night, he is loathed to discuss himself in a third person but can be persuaded to do so from time to time.

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