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Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Trumpworld continually overestimates Trump’s support among black voters

By meerna Jun18,2024
Trumpworld continually overestimates Trump’s support among black voters

A person sitting in the audience at Donald Trump’s Saturday event at a Detroit church could be forgiven for assuming the room was full of Black Michiganders. Trump sat at a long table at the front of the room, flanked by dozens of chairs filled with black spectators. But the rest of the audience, sitting in the aisle, was much more white.

On Sundays the church is a black church. This Saturday, less so.

But the style of Donald Trump and his supporters is to always portray their support as amazing and exceptional, and that support was exactly that.

“The GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee appealed to a mostly black crowd by talking about the migrant crisis,” says the print edition of the New York Post, “during a policy and awareness roundtable speech at 180 Church.” Updated online information: “The Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee focused on black voters.”

The idea that Trump was speaking to the black community in a black space was common among his supporters. As you might expect; The entire point of the exercise was to suggest that Trump was encroaching on traditionally Democratic political arenas. It’s the same strategy the campaign used when he held a rally in the Bronx: gather a modest crowd, then exaggerate the scale and significance of what happened.

It is true that current polls show that Trump is doing better than he did with black voters in 2020 and that the gap between his support and that of President Biden is much smaller than it was four years ago. However, as with other visible changes since 2020, this is more the result of apathy for Biden than enthusiasm for Trump.

We recently conducted a survey that allows us to demonstrate this. YouGov recently completed a nationwide survey commissioned by The Economist that measured support among black voters. Over the weekend, USA Today published a poll conducted by the University of Suffolk that included only black voters in two swing states: Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The 2020 exit polls (an admittedly imperfect measurement) show Biden winning among black voters nationally and in these swing states by 75 and 85 points, respectively. He currently has a 49-point lead nationally, a 39-point lead in Michigan and a 45-point lead in Pennsylvania.

Polls suggest Trump added only single-digit support. He gained 8 points in Michigan (in a poll with a margin of error of 4.4 points) and 4 points in Pennsylvania. Nationwide, YouGov has Trump’s support matching his support in 2020 exit polls. The difference is Biden’s support, which is down 26 points nationally and just under 40 points in swing states.

In Michigan, only about half of Biden’s Black supporters say they are very motivated to vote for him. In Pennsylvania, it’s about 60 percent. In both states, only about two-thirds of people who say they voted for him in 2020 indicate they plan to do so again this year. When asked why their support had dropped, the most common answer was simply that Biden had not done well as president. (In both states, “he did a bad job” was twice as common as saying Biden was too old or that respondents opposed Biden’s foreign policy.)

The modest gains Trump is seeing in support among black voters are in part a function of divisions along age and gender lines. Younger black voters in Michigan and Pennsylvania were less likely to support Biden and slightly more likely to support Trump. This generally applied to men as well.

This corresponds to the degree to which voters positively perceive candidates. Younger and Black voters were more likely to say they viewed Trump favorably than older and Black voters. Biden’s favorability did not vary much by gender.

But even among younger black voters and black men, Biden enjoys significantly greater support than Trump. It’s simply not as broad as the Biden campaign would have expected, and in the states that were closest on the map in 2020, it’s a concern for the incumbent president.

It’s also unclear whether Trump’s efforts to attract the attention of black voters are particularly fruitful. (As we noted last week, it is often the case that his remarks to constituent voter groups are driven by, rather than driven by, shifts in support). Suffolk University asked Black voters in Michigan and Pennsylvania whether they agreed that Trump’s impeachment made him a more attractive figure to Black people; the percentage of people who said this was consistent with Trump’s overall support. Most respondents found this suggestion offensive. This pattern also held true for black men and younger black respondents.

The question that appears in this poll is again a question familiar from the broader conversation about the 2024 elections. Will black voters ultimately unite around Biden, widening the margin of support between the incumbent president and Trump? Or will many black voters, disappointed with Biden’s presidency, stay home? Note the numbers above: Trump is perceived negatively overall, even among groups of black voters where he is performing better. It’s not that black voters are demanding President Trump, but that they are frustrated with President Biden.

It’s important for Trump to portray his campaign as a target for enthusiastic black support for several reasons. First, he pushes back against the idea that his candidacy and rhetoric should be unacceptable to non-white voters, creating space for more Black and Latino voters to express their support. Second, it serves to dispel the idea that Trump himself espouses racist views: how can this be true when he has so many Black friends supporters?

By the way, a Suffolk poll of black voters in Michigan found that regular churchgoers support Biden by a larger margin than those who never attend services. But among those who attended Trump’s event at a black church on Saturday, it’s safe to say Trump outperformed.

By meerna

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