Black support for Bush rises

Election 2004

October 20, 2004|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

WASHINGTON - Support for President Bush among African-Americans has doubled in four years, according to a poll released yesterday.

The survey by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a black-oriented think tank, said Bush's African-American support is at 18 percent, up 9 percentage points from the center's 2000 poll. Bush went on to receive 9 percent of the black vote in the 2000 election.

Kerry holds a commanding 69 percent to 18 percent edge over Bush among African-Americans, the survey said. But the numbers contrast with the 74 percent Vice President Al Gore got in the 2000 poll; he won 90 percent of the African-American vote in the 2000 election. The poll also found that 11 percent were still undecided, while 2 percent favored independent candidate Ralph Nader.

"This poll is showing a certain amount of black ambivalence in terms of election-year issues that resonate within the community and their relationship with Senator Kerry," said Joint Center President Eddie N. Williams. "They are holding conservative positions on some wedge issues, like same-sex marriage and civil unions, and indicating clear disapproval of the way the country is being run. At the same time, they have not yet embraced Senator Kerry to the extent that they did former President Clinton and former Vice President Gore."

Phil Singer, a Kerry campaign spokesman, said the Joint Center's figures run "contrary to what we're seeing."

Bush's largest gains came from people over 50. In this year's poll, 60 percent of African-Americans over 50 identified themselves as Democrats, down from 72 percent in the 2000 poll.

"I think religion really plays a role," said former Democratic Rep. Floyd H. Flake, an AME minister and a Bush ally on school vouchers.

But widespread discontent among African-Americans toward Bush and his policies remains. Sixty-seven percent in the Joint Center poll had an unfavorable view of Bush.

The poll of 1,642 adults was conducted between Sept. 15 and Oct. 10 and had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

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