- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 4, 2002

President Bush and Republicans in general enjoy newfound popularity among black voters, according to a new poll sponsored by Black America's Political Action Committee.
The poll found that 41 percent of the 1,000 black voters surveyed approve of the job Mr. Bush is doing, while 44 percent disapprove. The BAMPAC's last poll, in March 2001, revealed a 19 percent approval rate and 45 percent disapproval rate.
The latest poll, taken from June 20 to June 30, was released yesterday and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
Still, less than a quarter of those surveyed said the president probably or definitely deserves to be re-elected, while about a half said they definitely think someone other than Mr. Bush should be elected.
"That's a good heads-up for the White House: There needs to be a lot more work for the president in particular and the White House generally to do a lot more campaigning among African-Americans," said Alvin Williams, president and chief executive officer of BAMPAC. He said Mr. Bush's actions on issues such as education and school vouchers are good steps.
The president's "deserves re-election" numbers among blacks contrast with polls of the overall electorate from April and May, the most recent available, in which half of the respondents said they would vote to re-elect Mr. Bush.
It also contrasts with Mr. Bush's gains among Hispanics, who put Mr. Bush even with Al Gore in a hypothetical rematch, even though almost two-thirds of them voted for Mr. Gore in 2000.
Among the poll's other findings about black voters:
Fifty-seven percent qualified as "pro-life" those who thought abortion should be illegal in all or most cases while 36 percent thought abortion should be legal in at least the first trimester for any reason.
Fifty-one percent attend church at least weekly, while 19 percent never attend church.
Nearly half, 48 percent, said they would rather send their children to a private or charter school of their choice if given the chance, while 45 percent said they would keep their children in public schools.
Still, even though Republicans generally are more supportive of school choice, the vast majority trusted Democrats more than Republicans on education, by a 61-to-9 showing.
Republicans as a group have made some progress among black voters. Of those surveyed, 34 percent said Republicans have "tried to reach out to African Americans" up from 28 percent in March 2001 and 18 percent in May 1999.
Meanwhile, 49 percent said the Democratic Party has served the black community well down from 61 percent in March 2001 while 40 percent said the party takes black voters for granted.
But 62 percent said they have never voted for a Republican candidate. And more than 80 percent said they favored the Democrats: Fifty-eight percent described themselves as a "strong Democrat," 19 percent were "not-so-strong Democrat" and 7 percent leaned Democratic.
Mr. Williams, though, said the poll showed some slippage among younger black voters in their allegiance to the Democratic Party.
"In our data among young, college-educated African Americans, they are continually becoming disillusioned with the Democratic Party and demonstrating an independent streak," he said.
That was seconded by the Rev. W. Raymond Bryant, pastor of the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Dallas, who pointed to the political campaign of Cory Booker. Mr. Booker, a 33-year-old black Democrat and failed mayoral candidate from Newark, N.J., campaigned in favor of school vouchers.
Vouchers have become a prickly and divisive topic in the black community. Many of the younger leaders are pushing for vouchers, while the old guard has fought to secure more funding for failing public schools, arguing the money will help solve the ills.
"Even these new candidates and leaders who are Democrats are a new breed of Democrats," Mr. Bryant said. "They are more conservative."
Steve Miller contributed to this article.

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