Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
It was September and the media had just rolled out its latest hit piece against Ron DeSantis. Ever since DeSantis had won the Republican primary and Andrew Gillum had won the Dem primary, the media had been searching for new and innovative ways to smear DeSantis as a racist. Gillum was a radical leftist, but he was also African-American. And black voters were a key part of the Dem midterm strategy.
And the strategy hinged entirely on clumsy accusations of racism.
First, the media had insisted that DeSantis’ off-the-cuff remark, “monkey this up”, about the election was really a secret racist dog whistle. Then the Washington Post accused DeSantis of racism for speaking at the Freedom Center’s Restoration Weekend, alongside African-American speakers and activists.
The media’s wildly dishonest smear accused DeSantis of racism because heading up the conference was the Freedom Center’s intrepid leader, David Horowitz, who had survived attacks by the radical Left and debilitating medical problems, to continue fighting for the civil rights for all races and groups.
“I participated in my first civil rights demonstration for African Americans in 1948, 70 years ago. Since then, I have worked tirelessly on behalf of racial equality,” David Horowitz wrote in response to the smear. “Over the last 20 years, I have written three books and several hundred thousand words, all devoted to Martin Luther King’s vision that Americans should judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.”
The media had decided to use Horowitz to accuse DeSantis of racism by association. But Horowitz was not only a lifelong civil rights activist, he had written the blueprint for winning over black voters.
And that blueprint worked so well in Florida that it may have helped win the governor’s race.
In Big Agenda: President Trump s Plan to Save America, Horowitz had written that school choice was the “gauntlet that Republicans must throw down to Democrats to break their stranglehold on America’s largest urban centers.” Ron DeSantis threw down that gauntlet in Florida. And it rang like thunder.
Exit polls showed that 18% or nearly 1 in 5 black women had voted for DeSantis.
Ron DeSantis had campaigned vigorously on school choice, while Gillum opposed it and relied on racial appeals. That may have been a significant error as polls show that African-Americans are even more likely than whites to support school choice. But Gillum and the Democrats had every reason to be confident. Not only did they have an African-American candidate at the top of the ticket, but the media had poisoned the well by making every story about the race into accusations that DeSantis was a racist.
Only 1% of registered Republicans in Florida were African-American. The Dems thought their votes were in the bag. But while bags of ballots kept being found, fake votes couldn’t overcome real black votes.
William Mattox, director of the Marshall Center for Educational Options at the James Madison Institute, noted that of the 650,000 black women who voted in Florida, some 100,000 had voted for DeSantis.
That’s in an election that was decided by 32,463 votes.
Florida Democrats just couldn’t find enough fake ballots to overcome the black women whom Mattox dubbed “school choice moms” in a Wall Street Journal piece. Those 100,000 black women who voted for DeSantis parallel the “more than 100,000 low-income students in Florida” who “participate in the Step Up For Students program, which grants tax-credit funded scholarships to attend private schools.”
22% of Florida public school students are African-American. Many of them are trapped in a failing educational system that exists not to teach students, but to subsidize unions and their Democrat allies.
30% of tax credit scholarships had gone to African-American students. The credits were a lifeline for many, desegregating schools and freeing students to find a good education outside the system.
Despite the troubling situation in many Florida schools, the NAACP sold out black parents and children by joining the FEA teachers’ union fight against school voucher programs. “The NAACP is on the wrong side of history on this,” Rev. R.B. Holmes Jr., a former president of the Tallahassee NAACP, had warned.
Gillum also announced that he stood with the FEA against school choice putting unions ahead of black children. And 100,000 black women sent him a message that he too stood on the wrong side of history.
DeSantis performed far better among black female voters than the national GOP average of 7%, he noted. Black women have been the political engine for many Democrat victories. Winning 18% is a game changer that should have received far more attention in Republican circles than it has.
Black women had cast 92% of their votes for Senator Nelson in 2012. Governor Scott had won 13% of the vote among black women in 2014. Despite John James’ excellent campaign against Senator Stabenow, he only won 9% of the vote among black women. 18% is a number that ought to be studied.
What is especially striking is that the accusations of racism appear to have resonated more among white women who were being shamed by the media for voting Republican than among black women. DeSantis barely won a majority of white women in a significant decline from Trump’s performance in 2016. White college educated women had voted like their counterparts in 2016, but in 2018 they broke for Gillum.
Even as white women with college degrees trembled in fear of being accused of racism, and deserted DeSantis, black women, who didn’t care about accusations of racism, made the difference.
“We also believe that Black women voters are not only the secret sauce and most reliable vote for progressive candidates to win, we are leaders of many of our civil rights, women’s rights, social justice and human rights organizations,” Melanie L. Campbell, the head of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, had claimed while launching the NCBCP’s Florida campaign.
But the secret sauce didn’t go into baking a progressive victory, but a conservative one.
Gillum had bet everything on racism. And his bet failed.
While the media had bet on swinging the Florida election by smearing David Horowitz as a racist, the school choice outreach to black voters he had argued for prevailed over race-baiting with black voters.
The Washington Post’s efforts to smear David Horowitz not only failed miserably, Horowitz got the last laugh because his civil rights advocacy of reaching black voters by freeing black students from bad schools worked.
The media had tried to use Horowitz to bring down DeSantis. Instead Horowitz’s strategy for winning black voters showed that it could defeat the media’s chosen candidate. The media had accused Horowitz of racism. But 100,000 black women showed that it’s the media that is truly racist.