Some election twists don’t make sense — until you realize Black voters represent different viewpoints
A new New York Times/Siena College poll last week had an interesting nugget: fully 12 percent of black voters in South Carolina are still undecided in the state’s high-profile Senate race.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee , is winning with 46 percent, while Democrat Jaime Harrison has 40 percent. The poll’s 4.5 percentage point margin could make that closer than it seems.
Still, the idea that 12 percent of Black voters are undecided — in a race with an African-American candidate — will be shocking to some. That’s a high number for Black Americans at this stage and, contrary to some pundits, I believe it suggests Graham might do better with Blacks than most think.
Why might that be? Because Black voters are not a monolith. While it is true that most are Democrats, Black Americans come from all walks and represent all viewpoints.
The South Carolina numbers make more sense when you realize that people underestimate the degree to which the armed forces have shaped the lives of Black Americans. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump’s brand of patriotism, with Graham as his principal supporter in a state full of veterans, hasn’t produced a dividend among Black voters.
Ice Cube’s Influence
There are other examples, too. A good one is the bombshell announcement that Ice Cube, the iconic rapper and actor who wrote the lyrics for some of NWA’s best work, is willing to work with the Trump administration.
This is another one that doesn’t make much sense — until you realize that Black Americans represent many different viewpoints.
Ice Cube symbolizes the Black independent. Those in Black America with an agenda and a self-enlightened interest don’t neatly fit in the two-party system, because neither side speaks to their desire for autonomy.
Ice Cube is the kind of individual who would be familiar with the author Claude Anderson’s book PowerNomics and represents a kind of Kanye-with-an-agenda. That Democrats passed on his presentation while Republicans engaged shows the degree to which Democrats have a difficulty with Black men. Trump is capitalizing on that.
And it is no mystery why. In the Celebrity Influence Poll I commissioned this year, one in three voters nationally (36 percent) said Ice Cube had influence over their voting decision. More than one in 10 (13 percent) said he was “very important.” That’s worth a discussion for any campaign.
Democrats, and anyone else looking to win votes, would do well to stop thinking in stereotypes. No minority community votes in a bloc.
Cedric Muhammad, former general manager of the Wu-Tang Clan and political consultant, runs Hip-Hoppreneur, a firm that helps celebrities navigate the intersection of politics and pop culture.