It's no secret that the Democratic Party has owned a virtual monopoly on the black vote for decades, but it looks like Donald Trump's outreach efforts to black voters, along with Hillary Clinton's shaky status among the community, have made a difference — and if the trend keeps up, that progress might earn Trump a crucial percentage point or so in the national election.
According to some recent polling, Trump is far outpacing Mitt Romney's dismal 2012 performance among African-American voters. Facing President Barack Obama, Romney only managed to earn 6 percent of the black vote, while his opponent enjoyed 93 percent of the vote. In 2008, Obama received a stunning 96 percent of the black vote, McCain managing less than 4 percent. With African-Americans making up 13 percent of the population, that's obviously a big advantage electorally. In fact, part of the reason George W. Bush won in 2004 is that he was able to get 11 percent of the black vote.
This year, the Democratic nominee is struggling a bit more to win over the black population, as Obama acknowledged last week when he scolded the black community for not being "as solid as it needs to be" for Clinton. Neil Munro provides a summary of the findings of three recent polls showing Trump performing relatively well among African-Americans in two key battleground states:
On Friday, a poll of 506 Pennsylvania voters by Harper Polling showed Trump has the support of 18.46 percent of African-Americans. That’s 12.5 points more than Romney’s share of the national vote in 2012, and if it proves true during the ballot, that 18.46 percent African-American support translates into 2 point shift towards Trump. The poll also said another 4.6 percent were undecided.
The Harper poll is small, with an error margin of 4.4 percent, but an Oct. 30 poll of 1,249 likely voters in Pennsylvania showed Trump has 19 percent support among African Americans, while another 7 percent remain undecided. That poll has a error margin of 2.77 percent.
In next-door Michigan, two nights of a tracking poll conducted for Fox 2 of 1,150 likely voters showed Trump with 14 percent support and 19 percent support, leaving Clinton with 83 percent and 79 percent support. That’s equivalent to a two-point shift from Clinton to Trump in the state.
According to analysts in Michigan, deep "distrust" of Clinton is one of the major factors playing into her relatively weak performance among blacks. Early voting numbers in the state also show Democrat participation down compared to 2012, another troubling sign for the party. A recent Politico piece highlights the Democrat's weak early voter turnout among African-Americans:
After the first full weekend of in-person early voting ended Sunday, African-American turnout failed to meet expectations — or historic precedent — leaving top Democrats and activists fuming or worried that Clinton’s campaign isn’t living up to the hype in Florida.
“They’re not doing enough in the black community. I have been screaming for months about this and nothing changed and now look what’s happening,” said Democratic U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, who represents one of South Florida’s largest African-American communities.
With African-Americans representing around 13 percent of the population, even just a 10-percent decrease in black turnout for the Democratic candidate could cost her over one percentage point. With the margins increasingly tight, that could make a big difference in the end. However, while the apparent decline in black support is good news for Trump, the reported surge in Hispanic voters spells trouble, with a strong majority of Hispanics consistently voting Democrat.