December 01, 2004,
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article appears in the December 13, 2004, issue of National Review.
While Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove raided suburbs and exurbs for unregistered Republicans, a small group of non-party irregulars laid siege to the Democratic citadel: the minority precincts Al Gore carried by huge majorities in 2000.
This year, conservative 527s spent roughly $3 million to run 30,000 broadcast spots courting voters via Spanish-language and black media. On November 3, I reported the results of these efforts to Dan Perrin, executive director of the Republican Leadership Coalition. "Kerry outpolled Bush 84-16 among blacks in Ohio, and 86-13 in Florida," I told him. "And he outpolled Bush 56-44 among Hispanics in New Mexico."
"That's fantastic!" Dan exclaimed. "Let's get out a press release right away!"
So it went in the wacky world of Republican minority politics. Bad news was our stock in trade. In 2000, Democrats had taken 90 percent of the African-American vote to the Republicans' 9, and the Hispanic vote went for the Democrats 64-35. Many consultants considered an electoral assault against these bastions of liberal loyalty a waste of time and resources.
In 2004, the good news for Republicans was not that the GOP had won minority support (clearly, it hadn't) but that it was winning marginal increases. Nationwide, exit polls showed Bush's vote share increasing 2 percent among blacks and 9 percent among Hispanics. In crucial swing states, where conservative 527s waged vigorous campaigns on behalf of the GOP, the president fared better still.