Democratic strategists are astonished, and extremely pleased, with a little-noticed finding of the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the poll finds, has no support among African Americans.
That's not a typo. The number was zero.
The poll found that 94 percent of African Americans plan to vote for President Obama, and not one of the more than 100 black voters surveyed (among a larger sample of 1,000) said he or she plans to vote for Romney. The remaining 6 percent of African Americans polled said they were undecided or had no opinion.
"That's historic," says Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher, who points out that Republican candidates in recent years have at least garnered a tiny fraction of black voters. In 2008, GOP nominee John McCain won 4 percent of African Americans when he ran against Obama, and in 2004, George W. Bush garnered 11 percent when he ran against Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
The margin of error of the new poll was 3 percent, so it's possible that some black voters are supportive of Romney but weren't detected in the sample. But the poll is certainly bad news for Romney's campaign, which has been hoping to make at least some inroads into the African American community.
Belcher says it goes beyond the fact that Obama is the first African American president. "The minority voter perceives the Republican party as more hostile to minorities than it has been in recent history," he says. Belcher cites the harsh attacks on Obama's health-care law, which many African
Americans believe has been beneficial to them, and anti-Obama rhetoric from Tea Party conservatives and others in the GOP.
But Republican strategists argue that even though Obama enjoys overwhelming support among black voters, that doesn't mean they will actually show up to cast their ballots in the massive numbers that he attracted in 2008. One potential reason, the GOP strategists say, is because of dissatisfaction in the African American community with the unemployment rate and the economy.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," and is the author of "The Presidency" column in the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.