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Trump and the Black Vote

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before boarding Air Force One in Morristown, N.J., August 15, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Donald Trump is a racist, white supremacist, white nationalist. So are his supporters.” Some version of that refrain is heard almost hourly somewhere in mainstream media. Democratic politicians seem to proclaim it more often than that.

Listening only to the Left, you’d conclude that more than half a century after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and more than a decade after the election of the first black president, the number of racists and white supremacists in America seems to be reaching levels not seen in a hundred years. (In reality, in 1930, when the nation’s population was approximately 130 million, the number of Klansmen was estimated to be 4 million. Today, the nation’s population is close to 330 million; the number of Klansmen is estimated to be 4,000.)

The rhetoric will get worse over the next year. Progressives and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) lie about Trump’s remarks in Charlottesville to portray him as a Nazi sympathizer; they claim Michael Brown was “murdered” by a racist cop. Nearly every negative occurrence seems to be attributed to white supremacy stoked by Trump.

What concerns progressives is that despite their relentless rhetorical assault, Trump’s approval ratings among black voters appear to  range between 18–34 percent (among Hispanics that number has reached the forties, even though Trump wants to put them all in cages before deporting them to Greenland). Fourteen months from the next presidential election, those approval numbers are cause not just for Democratic concern, but apoplexy.

A Democratic presidential candidate ne to get approximately 85–95 percent of the black vote to have a chance of winning. According to Roper Center data, in the last eight presidential elections the black vote was cast as follows:

Dukakis 89 percent, Bush 10 percent
Clinton 83 percent, Bush 10 percent
Clinton 84 percent, Dole 12 percent
Gore 90 percent, Bush 9 percent
Kerry 88 percent, Bush 11 percent
Obama 95 percent, McCain 4 percent
Obama 93 percent, Romney 6 percent
Clinton 89 percent, Trump 8 percent

Hillary Clinton’s percentage of the black vote was only a few points lower than Obama’s. But Clinton didn’t come close to replicating Obama’s black turnout numbers. It’s estimated she received nearly 4 million fewer black votes than Obama.

Democrats know that to win Michigan, Pennsylvania, and other former “Blue Wall” states, they need to get more than 90 percent of the black vote and dramatically increase black turnout numbers. And Democratic presidential candidates know that, depending on the state, blacks constitute 22–40 percent of  Democratic primary voters. Accordingly, the claims of racism and white supremacy promise to intensify. This is especially so when so many of the policy prescriptions touted by Democratic candidates — from health care for illegal immigrants to the Green New Deal — are either opposed by blacks or met with indifference.

Republican presidential candidates generally cede the black vote to Democrats, but Trump has paid more attention to getting the black vote than any Republican presidential candidate in decades. Despite progressives’ hourly accusations of white supremacy, Trump’s approval ratings among blacks are robust. If Trump’s black vote totals are even half of the lower percentage in 2020, he’d get four more years in office.

So not a day will pass between now and the 2020 election without a mention of racism, white supremacy, and white nationalism, regardless of how unhinged the allegation.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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