Richard Young engages in a thought experiment about Herman Cain winning the Republican primary (still a long shot) and going on to challenge President Barack Obama in the 2012 general election. He concludes that Cain can safely split the black vote with Obama. Two African-Americans running against each other for the American presidency would be unprecedented and probably make traditional political analyses moot. However, let us note the following impediments to Cain’s victory among blacks in the 2012 election:
1. Blacks vote overwhelmingly Democratic and have for decades. It’s a big leap to assume that you will see about half of them switch party affiliation.
2. Obama’s job approval among blacks still is at 84% — slightly lower than it was in January 2009, but blacks continue to support him at a higher level than any other group.
3. While the simplicity of Cain’s 9-9-9 plan is appealing, the actual implication of such a plan would be regressive. This flat tax/sales tax plan would have a disproportionately negative effect on blacks, who on average have much lower incomes and household wealth than whites. It seems to me this issue alone would be hard for Cain to overcome in a general election.
Counterpoint: Herman Cain’s Success Lies in the Black Vote