The GOP’s 2022 Midterm Slate Is More Diverse Than Ever

Democrats face a double whammy in next month’s midterm elections. The latest polls show Republicans regaining control of the House and possibly even winning a majority in the Senate. Equally disconcerting to liberals, these gains could come in a year when the GOP is fielding a historically diverse slate of candidates.

According to the National Republican Congressional Committee, 28 of the GOP’s 435 House candidates on the ballot next month are black, and 33 are Hispanic. Some are long shots running in reliably blue districts. Others, including

John James

of Michigan and

Wesley Hunt

of Texas—both black West Point graduates—are favored to win. “Diversity in the Republican Party is not the best,” Mr. Hunt told the

New York Times

earlier this year. “If you don’t have people like me, and women, step up and say, actually, it’s OK to be a person of color and to be a Republican, then we’re going to lose the next generation.”

People like Mr. Hunt keep Democratic strategists up at night. Democrats talk nonstop about supposed voter suppression that plagues our electoral system and disenfranchises minorities. But in 2008 and 2012, the black turnout rate exceeded the white rate. In 2018, black, Hispanic and Asian turnout were all the highest on record for a midterm election. This reality, along with the fact that more minorities are voting Republican, makes Democratic cries of “Jim Crow 2.0” ring hollow. It’s a nightmare scenario for liberals, who lean heavily on dismissing their political opponents as racists.

Two years ago, minority candidates such as

Maria Elvira Salazar

of Florida, a daughter of Cuban exiles, and

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Burgess Owens

of Utah, a black former professional football player, helped Republicans defeat several Democratic House incumbents and gain 14 seats. And while

Donald Trump

lost his re-election bid in 2020, Republicans saw small but significant gains among all racial and ethnic minorities, particularly black and Hispanic men.

To some extent, these early upticks in minority support for the GOP reflected improving economic fortunes prior to the pandemic. Under the previous administration, poverty and unemployment for blacks and Hispanics were the lowest on record, and black wages grew faster than white wages. Democrats and the media had insisted that the Trump presidency would be a disaster for these groups, but the data told a different story. It’s hardly surprising that a larger number of minority voters in 2020 decided to ignore the Beltway rhetoric and believe their bank statements.

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That blacks are voting for Republican candidates is good news for the black electorate as a whole. Ideally, both major parties would regularly compete for black support. One reason that millions of black Americans have such poor and unresponsive political representation is that they have underutilized our two-party system. Blacks don’t play Republicans and Democrats against each other to the extent that other groups do. As a result, Republicans have learned how to win without the black vote. And Democrats have learned to take black support as a given, secure in the belief that blacks will pull the lever for Democrats or not at all.

Over the decades, black leaders have encouraged and nurtured a collective black identity that manifests itself in bloc voting, mass protests, public demonstrations and the like, even while black opinion has grown steadily more diverse. According to survey data from the American National Election Study, between the 1970s and the 2000s the number of blacks who identified as politically conservative rose from less than 10% to nearly 50%, yet the Democratic share of the black vote remained largely unchanged.

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When Mr. Hunt, the GOP congressional candidate in Texas, told the Times he’s trying to convince other blacks that there’s nothing wrong with voting Republican, he touched on a phenomenon that the political scientists

Ismail White


Chryl Laird

explore in their 2020 book, “Steadfast Democrats: How Social Forces Shape Black Political Behavior.” Identifying with and voting for Democrats “have come to be understood by most black Americans as in-group expected behaviors that individual blacks perform in anticipation of social rewards for compliance and sanctions for defection,” the authors write. Reliable black partisan preferences for Democrats, in other words, have less to do with individual issues and far more to do with peer pressure coming from other blacks.

There’s no question that solidarity politics helps black elected officials secure votes and black activists raise money, but there is little evidence that a monolithic group ideology facilitates upward mobility. Black voters deserve more options, and thanks to more black Republicans on the ballot in November, they now have them.

Wonder Land: With its handling of the Southern border, Team Biden demolished the Democrats’ moral high ground on immigration, creating an opening for the GOP. Images: AP/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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