The traditionally strong tie between blacks and the Democratic Party is growing weaker, especially among young blacks, according to a new study. However, Eddie Williams, head of the Joint Center For Political Studies, said a survey conducted with the Gallup organization showed that Republicans still "have a disastrous image problem" in the black community.
"While the attachment of blacks to the Democratic Party is weakening, they nevertheless remain in that party. They have not as yet been persuaded to join the GOP," Williams said in a speech to an organization of black Republicans. "The GOP has enormous image problems in the black community. But at the same time, it has enormous opportunity," he told the group.
Only 10 percent of blacks identified themselves as Republicans in the survey, which sampled 900 whites and 900 blacks nationwide, while 77 percent identified with the Democratic Party.
But the survey also found that only 41 percent of the blacks said they were strong Democrats, compared to 49 percent in 1986 and 54 percent in 1984. And among blacks ages 18 to 29, only 28 percent said they were strong Democrats; 18 percent identified themselves as Republicans.
The GOP has two major image problems to overcome, Williams said. First, only 17 percent of the blacks said they believe GOP leaders care about the problems of blacks. Second, blacks are unimpressed by the performance of blacks who have achieved leadership posts within the Republican Party.
Referring to candidates for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination, Williams said, "Now is the time to put their feet to the fire by asking what the party is willing to do" to deserve black support.