Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Republican presidential ticket is still having a hard time with black voters, according to a survey by Black America’s Political Action Committee (BAMPAC), which found that 73 percent of respondents disapprove of the way President Bush is handling his job.

Seventeen percent of the 800 black registered voters surveyed believe that Mr. Bush deserves re-election, and the president’s approval rating in the poll is 21 percent.

Although Mr. Bush has had troubled relations with black voters, his numbers are an improvement over the meager 8 percent of the black vote he won in 2000.

As for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, 53 percent support him, with 32 percent reporting that the senator from Massachusetts is the best person to replace the president.

“President Bush’s approval rating among African Americans has not fluctuated greatly since 2002, when he had a high approval rating in the aftermath of the U.S. response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack,” BAMPAC President Alvin Williams said.

“Since then he has returned to his average rating among African Americans, which has been in the range of 20 to 25 percent,” he said.

Mr. Kerry’s favorable standing in the poll, which was conducted between June 30 and July 4 for BAMPAC by Wilson Research Strategies, “can primarily be attributed to his partisan affiliation,” Mr. Williams said.

Also among the poll’s findings:

• The most important issues to blacks when choosing a candidate are the economy (34 percent), health care (12 percent) and education (11 percent).

• Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was rated as the most influential black political figure by 38 percent of respondents. The Rev. Jesse Jackson ranked second with 27 percent.

• The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People received the most “very favorable” ratings among a group of political organizations and individuals, getting that rating from 51 percent of respondents. The Democratic Party followed at 41 percent, with Mr. Powell third at 33 percent. The NAACP scored its high ratings while the president was refusing to address the group at its annual convention last week in Philadelphia.

The poll comes as the Bush campaign makes another effort to court black voters, who have voted overwhelmingly Democratic for the past 40 years.

The campaign’s national steering committee for black voter and urban outreach was announced in Detroit earlier this week, following a conference of church leaders, businessmen and elected officials.

David Murray, director of coalitions for the Bush campaign in Michigan, declined yesterday to speak about the outreach effort.

“The president is not to be blamed here,” said Harold Doley Jr., a black New York businessman, former President Reagan appointee and a major Republican Party donor. “It is the people who are mapping out the campaign strategy who are overlooking the black vote.”

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