Take a guess as to what percentage of black voters Mitt Romney is winning this election. Now take whatever number you've got in your head and go lower.
According to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, President Obama is beating his Republican opponent among black voters by a whopping 94 percent to 0 percent. The numbers are pretty brutal for Romney among Latinos, as well: he's losing to the president almost 2 to 1. The poll has President Obama ahead among all registered voters, 48 percent to Romney's 44 percent.
The numbers aren't a complete surprise -- the Republican party has fared poorly with black voters for decades. But there was a moment in the mid-aughts when the GOP was starting to see hints of progress. Both Bob Dole and George W. Bush actively courted conservative black voters and even managed to eke into double digits. (Not a small accomplishment, considering Democrats regularly won 90-plus percent of black voters in national contests for decades.) In 2005, Ken Mehlman, who was then running the Republican National Committee, even apologized to black leaders for the party's use of racially divisive tactics, in a gesture that suggested that Republicans were making a serious play to slice off bits of the black electorate.
But Barack Obama's campaign in the 2008 upended even those meager gains. Obama won 96 percent of the black vote in an election that also saw unprecedented African American turnout.
Mitt Romney addressed the NAACP in July to make his pitch to African Americans. "With 90 percent of African Americans voting for Democrats, some of you may wonder why a Republican would bother to campaign in the African-American community, and to address the NAACP," Romney said to the audience. "Of course, one reason is that I hope to represent all Americans, of every race, creed or sexual orientation, from the poorest to the richest and everyone in between."
Although Romney was greeted with polite applause, he did manage to ruffle some feathers during his address. He was jeered when he said he would repeal president Obama's healthcare law. "If you're looking for a president who will make things better for the African-American community, you're looking at him," Romney said to boos and snickering. One NAACP official claimed that Romney flew in black supporters to applaud him.
On the other side of the ledger, the poll shows the president pulling in around 40 percent of white voters, which would be a historic low for a winning candidate if he's re-elected in November. (No Democrat has won the white vote since 1964, the year President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law.) A report released in July found that President Obama would need to improve upon his record 2008 showing with black voters or he would struggle mightily in several key states that remain up for grabs.
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