WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com)–Despite saturation news coverage of U.S. war plans with Iraq as well as a “rally-around-the-flag” culture that benefits President George W. Bush, most Blacks in this country actually reject his idea of a war, and only a scant few even see it as a key concern, according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
Only 19.2 percent of Blacks support the prospect of U.S. war with Iraq, while only six percent even view it as their most important concern, according to a national poll the Joint Center released Oct. 29.
“African Americans, like the rest of the population, are very concerned about terrorism,” Eddie Williams, president of the Joint Center, said in a statement. “Our poll shows, however, that they are still not convinced by the administration’s push for a war with Iraq.”
Blacks in fact “repudiated” the war, according to the poll’s author, Dr. David Bositis, a senior research associate at the Black think tank. “From my perspective, the most important issue was war with Iraq which was repudiated by African Americans,” Dr. Bositis told The Final Call.
“In times of war, in times when there’s a perception of peril, people tend to rally around the president in support,” Dr. Bositis told reporters. “Prior to Sept. 11, George Bush was viewed pretty much as he was viewed in the election, with half the country favoring him, half the country opposed to him. That changed dramatically after Sept. 11.”
Mr. Bush still receives some of that residual feeling reflected in favorable American views of George Bush, said Dr. Bositis, although even those “good” feelings for the president among Blacks are substantially less favorable than the general population, he said.
For the first time, the Joint Center also asked Blacks to rate the United Nations and the leadership of several foreign countries, including Cuba, Mexico, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. “African Americans are rarely polled on foreign affairs issues unrelated to Africa, and we felt it was important to get their views,” Dr. Bositis told reporters.
The leaders of U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Israel, all scored higher unfavorable ratings than favorable among Blacks, while the leadership of Communist adversaries China and Russia received higher favorable ratings than unfavorable. Blacks gave China a 46 percent favorable rating, and 34 percent unfavorable. That is almost opposite the view of the general population that gives China only 32 percent favorable, compared to 50 percent unfavorable.
Saudi Arabia’s leadership is viewed favorably by only 24 percent of Blacks and unfavorably by 55 percent, which is close to the general population figure of 25 percent favorable and 60 percent unfavorable. Israel’s right-wing Likud government received only a 38 percent favorable rating, compared to 40 percent unfavorable, the poll showed, while the general population gives Israel 48 percent favorable and 37 percent unfavorable.
Among the other findings: Secretary of State is, hands down, the most popular figure in the current administration among Blacks. Mr. Powell’s favorable rating of 73.3 percent outstrips those for President George W. Bush (50.8 percent), Vice President Dick Cheney (43.2 percent), and National Security Adviser Dr. Condoleezza Rice (41.1 percent).
Black opposition to school vouchers increased to 42.6 percent in 2002, from 37 percent in 2000, and fewer Blacks (63 percent) now identify themselves as Democrats than in 2000 (74 percent). “In terms of partisan identification, there has been a decline among younger Black adults,” said Dr. Bositis. “They tend to be more independent. Fifteen years from now they will be at the prime age for voting. If Democrats don’t work to get their loyalty, they might have to worry about that in the future.”
The shift is most dramatic among Blacks aged 26 to 35, according to the poll, where Democratic identification is now about 56 percent Democrats, 29 percent independents, and 15 percent Republicans.
Two years ago, 74 percent of Blacks in all age groups identified themselves as Democrats and just 4 percent as Republicans. Today, 63 percent are self-described Deocrats, and 10 percent are Republicans, although the increase in the rate of Republican support is not significant according to Dr. Bositis, because the previous level and the new level fall within the 3 percent statistical margin-of-error.
“The loyalty of older African Americans for the Democratic Party is certainly not there for younger African Americans, and every year more of the older African Americans die or drop out of voting,” said Dr. Bositis.
In recent elections, Democrats have gained close to 90 percent support from Blacks while Republicans have sought to improve on poor single-digit Black support. GOP leaders insist that if they can get just 15 percent among Black voters, it would make it very hard for Democrats to win statewide elections in many states.
The five most important issues according to Blacks in 2002 are: employment and the economy; world affairs; terrorism; crime, violence and drugs; and education. Among Whites, instead of crime and drugs, moral issues–the country’s moral crisis–are among the top five.
The survey–the Joint Center’s 12th since 1984–was conducted between Sept. 17 and Oct. 21, 2002 among 1,647 adults around the country. The polling sample was divided into two groups, 850 Blacks and 850 members of the general population.
The Joint Center is a non-partisan, non-profit organization, which conducts research and analysis on public policy issues of concern to Blacks and other minorities and promotes their involvement in the governance process.