Cain's short-lived flirt with the presidential nomination raises big questions for the GOP ahead of 2012. The biggest one being, how will the party attract Black and Latino voters in numbers large enough to swing the election their way?
Despite high employment and partisan bickering in Congress, a recent poll commissioned by the Women of Color Policy Network at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service of Black and Latino voters in battleground states finds they are poised to turn out in 2012. A hefty 90 percent of Black and Latino voters in swing states say they are very likely to vote and of those, 50 percent are more interested in voting than in 2008.
While many thought Cain was a contender, Blacks and Latinos never saw it that way. In battleground states, Cain's favorability rating was a low 20 percent. And among Black and Latino women, a meager 2 percent of likely voters held a favorable view of Cain.
Sexual harassment allegations aside, it was Cain's conservative views that did him in with racial and ethnic minorities. His answer to high unemployment and discrimination was to work harder. Cain's answer to immigration was to build a tall, electrified fence with barbed wire and a sign on the other side saying that it can kill you. He came off as out of touch with the reality of their communities.
Other GOP candidates, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney among them, will likely face similar challenges to winning the support of Black and Latino voters, who rank the economy and education as their top concerns. And while these issues may top the list of GOP candidates as well, Black and Latino voters believe Democrats have a better approach to dealing with these problems, 72 percent compared to 11 percent.
Republicans need a game plan and new playbook. Their attempt to come with an alternative to Barack Obama has failed again. First Michael Steele bit the dust, now Cain. The GOP should realize that cheap tricks and shortcuts to winning the support of Black and Latino communities will not work. Coming up with real solutions and policy strategies to ease high unemployment, create quality jobs and fix the broken immigration and public school systems is what it will take to win over voters.