With black unemployment at 15.6 percent, African-Americans are questioning what Democrats have done for them. What’s more, this year’s black Republican candidates were far from being upper-middle-class racial mascots. Scott grew up in a poor Charleston neighborhood with a divorced mother who worked double shifts as a nurse’s assistant. Vernon Parker (who lost his August primary) was born to a single mother in Houston, and grew up in California with his grandmother, a housekeeper.

Still, black Republicans will have to face four decades of skepticism about GOP bona fides on race, not to mention the opposition of a Democratic party with the first African-American president as its head. But the most important question they’ll face from black voters will be the one they’ve posed themselves to Barack Obama and his party: “What have you done for us lately?” Only if the new black Republicans can answer that question will the pendulum of black political loyalties fully swing.