GOP sees an opportunity to attract Black voters even after their spectacle amid SCOTUS confirmation

GOP sees an opportunity to attract Black voters even after their spectacle amid SCOTUS confirmation
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), image via Shutterstock and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), image via Wikimedia Commons.

Republican lawmakers have been deeply criticized this week for the political spectacle they created during the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings for now-confirmed Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. From questioning the integrity of Jackson's expertise and character to making subtle racially-charged remarks, Republican lawmakers have been at the center of multiple headlines for their actions during the hearings.

But despite their unfavorable displays, they reportedly still believe there is an opportunity to gain the support of Black voters. According to The New York Times, Republicans are hoping to focus on the economic challenges Americans are facing amid staggering inflation rates, rapidly rising costs, the war in Ukraine, and the looming circumstances surrounding the pandemic.

The Times' Jonathan Weisman and Maya King highlighted the strategy and message Republican lawmakers are likely to push as midterm elections approach.

"Republicans on the campaign trail and over the airwaves are pressing the image of a faltering Democratic leadership that has no clue how to handle economic uncertainty, the persistent pandemic and rising crime. When Republican officials are asked about the party’s strategy toward Black voters, they invariably call on the few Black Republican elected officials and candidates to make the pitch."

The reporters also offered their take on the political perspective from both sides of the aisle. While Democrats believe Republicans' treatment of Jackson might motivate Black voters to head to the polls, Weisman and King argue otherwise as they noted day-to-day economic struggles may likely take precedence over the intense confirmation hearings.

"If Democrats still believe that Judge Jackson’s rough treatment will energize Black voters to come out this November and vote Democratic in big numbers, it appears likely that they will be disappointed," they wrote. "For frustrated voters of all colors who are struggling to pay their bills and fill their tanks, November’s vote may simply be a chance to vote against the party in power."

Jennifer-Ruth Green, a Black veteran currently running for a Republican Congressional in Indiana, recently emphasized how the economic concerns are more impactful. “We are not a monolith,” Green said. “We see inflation and gas prices. Voters are not stupid.”

As for their treatment of Jackson, Democratic voters have also weighed in to express concern. “To be in a room full of white people asking her questions about where she learned what she learned and what she is capable of — you know, it didn’t sit well with me,” said Roshaun Knowles, a Black cosmetologist. “She should have been treated as a white man would have been treated."

So could this strategy work for Republicans? Dr. Leah Wright Rigueur, an associate history professor at Johns Hopkins University, noted that dissatisfaction could open a door. “It’s an incredibly effective strategy, but it’s also insidious,” said Dr. Rigueur. “It only works when there’s that dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party.”

However, Greg Fleming, an Indiana voter, also noted that Republicans' conspiracy theories could be a drawback for the political party, collectively.

“I mean, they thought everything that happened on Jan. 6 was AOK? That’s crazy,” Mr. Fleming said. “If a Mitt Romney-type Republican ran, I could go for that. But Republicans, they’re on another planet right now. I can’t even call them far right. They’re defying gravity.”

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