House Republican Caucus Not Going to Get a Whole Lot Blacker Next Year

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Tim Scott.Photo: Courtesy of Tim Scott via Facebook

As the Times pointed out in an article this past May, there were more black congressional candidates running as Republicans this year than in any year since Reconstruction. This is a very exciting development for a party that can only claim two black members of Congress since the 1930s, and none since J.C. Watts retired in 2003 — especially now with FreedomWorks trying to attract more minorities to the Tea Party movement. But how many of those black candidates actually made it through the primaries and have a chance of actually winning their races? Not that many!

According to a list compiled by the Frederick Douglass Foundation, 35 black candidates ran as Republicans for the House this year. With the primaries all but over (Hawaii, the last state, holds its primary this Saturday), fourteen of them have secured the GOP nomination and made it onto the general election ballot. But eleven of them have approximately zero chance of winning, according to the calculations of smart polling person Nate Silver.

That leaves three black Republicans who could conceivably win their races this year. Allen West, a former army colonel who is fond of violent rhetoric and despises those co-exist bumper stickers, is running fairly even with the Democratic incumbent in Florida's 22nd district, but Silver thinks that the Democrats have the edge. Ryan Frazier, a city councilman and businessman, has only a 32 percent chance of beating the incumbent Democrat in Colorado's 7th district encompassing Denver's suburbs, Silver predicts. And Tim Scott, a member of South Carolina's House of Representatives, defeated Strom Thurmond's son to capture the Republican nod in the state's Republican-friendly 1st district, and is now basically assured of winning in November.

So what we're looking at is definitely one, possibly two, and as many as three black Republicans in Congress next year. In other words, nothing that's going to alter the prevailing racial compositions of the two major parties. The GOP House caucus is still going to be very white next year. But everything is relative. Again, there isn't a single black Republican in the House currently. Considering the status quo, next year will look like a Tyler Perry movie in comparison.