Black Republicans Break Barriers: Mia Love and Tim Scott Win Big

Jane C. Timm, MSNBC, November 5, 2014

As the GOP made historic gains on Tuesday night, three black Republicans made history.

Utah’s Mia Love became the first black female member of the GOP to ever be elected to Congress and the first person of color ever to represent the state. Tim Scott became the first black candidate to be elected to statewide office since Reconstruction and the first ever black senator elected in South Carolina. And House candidate Will Hurd became the first black Republican elected in Texas since Reconstruction.

Mia Love

Mia Love

The three Republicans will be the only African-Americans in their party on Capitol Hill and their elections will bolster their party’s diversity and potentially their credibility among black voters going into 2016. After being trounced by Democrats with black and Latino voters in the last two presidential elections, the GOP has made a concerted effort to recruit, elect, and appeal to more minorities. {snip}

In House of Representatives elections this year, according to exit poll data, just 10% of African-Americans said they voted for Republican candidates and 89% backed Democratic candidates, so it’ll be an upward hill for the GOP to attract black voters.

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The state’s Republican Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Scott to fill the seat upon then-Sen. Jim DeMint’s resignation, but Tuesday he secured the seat through a general election, winning 55% of the vote. According to NBC News exit polls, he won just 10% of the black vote, instead pulling in 88% of the white vote to secure his win.

Not everyone in South Carolina saw progress in Scott’s candidacy. “If you call progress electing a person with the pigmentation that he has, who votes against the interest and aspirations of 95% of the black people in South Carolina, then I guess that’s progress,” Rep. James E. Clyburn, a black Democrat, told the Washington Post. And at the polls, much of the country expressed pessimism about race relations. Just 20% of voters nationwide say they’ve improved and just about twice as many voters said they’ve gotten worse.

In Utah, Love, 38, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, won 50% of the vote. There is not yet any data on the racial make-up of Love’s voters. {snip}

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