Republicans Rising in Black Voters' Estimation

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:29pm EDT

( - In a poll released Monday, registered African-American voters chose Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell as the most popular African-American leader - right up there with Democrat Jesse Jackson.

Both men received an 80 percent "favorable" rating in the poll commissioned by Black America's Political Action Committee (BAMPAC).

According to the national survey, Powell's approval rating rose from 73 percent in 2001, while Jackson's dropped from 83 percent last year.

Powell and Jackson were followed by the Rev. Al Sharpton with a 51 percent favorable rating, and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, who scored favorably with 41 percent of those polled.

Bampac said of all the leaders named in the poll, Rice experienced the largest surge in name recognition and approval rating. Fifty-nine percent of the black registered voters polled recognized Rice's name in 2002, compared with 38 percent last year; and her favorable rating rose to 41 percent this year from 17 percent in 2001.

"The poll results illustrate that African-Americans have a profound respect for the leadership Dr. Rice and Secretary Powell continue to display in the midst of the war on terrorism," said BAMPAC President Alvin Williams. "Moreover, the poll illustrates that African-Americans' approval of leaders transcends party lines," Williams added.

Both Powell and Rice are Republicans.

As far as the issues go, the BAMPAC poll found that national security and the economy are the most pressing concerns for American-Americans.

The survey also found that the issue of school vouchers is resonating favorably with African-Americans, 56 percent of whom gave their public schools a grade of "C" or lower.

Asked to rank the biggest problems facing their local schools, the poll respondents put lack of discipline first, followed by lack of resources, and social issues (drug use, teen pregnancy, crime).

Nearly half of the respondents (48 percent) said they would like to send their children to private or charter schools.\b Forty-five percent said they would keep their children in public schools.

BAMPAC noted an increase in favorable responses when poll respondents learned that BAMPAC supports school choice in the form of vouchers. Likewise, those polled were more likely to express approval when the word "vouchers" was replaced with the phrase "opportunity scholarships."

Forty-six percent of African Americans said they have a more favorable opinion of President Bush because of his response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, while 36 percent had a less favorable opinion of him.

Bush's overall approval ratings among African Americans rose to 41 percent in the most recent poll, compared with 19 percent in BAMPAC's 2001 poll.

The poll found that the Democratic Party's standing declined a bit among African Americans.

"The Democratic Party's standing among the respondents was somewhat diminished since the 2001 poll, with the Republican Party enjoying modest gains. The percentage of African Americans that stated that the Democratic Party has served them well decreased from 61 percent in 2001 to 49 percent in 2002. 40 percent stated that the Democrats have taken them for granted (up from 27 percent in 2001)," according to the poll.

But the poll also that "the percentage of African-Americans who felt the Republican Party ignored them has decreased slightly from 59 percent in 2001 to 53 percent in 2002."

The survey was conducted between June 20-30, and it is based on the responses of 1,000 African-American registered voters. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus three points.

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