Critics in the mainstream media have been quick to dismiss Donald Trump’s efforts to attract minority voters, but some evidence suggests his efforts may actually pay off — and may already be working.
In a sign of the powerful appeal of Trump’s message, the GOP nominee experienced a 10-point swing among black voters immediately following his Milwaukee speech that featured a direct appeal to the black community, according to a Los Angeles Times poll.
“[Trump] has a chance to break through so long as his message is consistent.”
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“The Democratic Party has failed and betrayed the African-American community,” Trump said in that speech. “Democratic crime policies, education policies, and economic policies have produced only more crime, more broken homes, and more poverty,” he added.
Unfortunately, despite the bounce with black voters he earned with this message, Trump is now right back where he was before that bounce in the LA tracking poll, hovering below 5 percent among black voters. A recent NBC poll, however, shows that 8 percent of black voters back Trump, two points higher than the 6 percent of the black vote Mitt Romney received in 2012.
Clearly one speech isn’t enough — Trump needs to consistently and repeatedly hammer his message to minority voters in order to drown out the noise of a well-oiled Democratic propaganda machine.
“[Trump] has a chance to break through so long as his message is consistent,” said Gianno Caldwell, a Republican political strategist and regular commentator on GOP minority outreach efforts. His messaging must always “involve policy solutions to the problems that have plagued the black community for decades,” Caldwell added.
While Trump may still have some work ahead of him to lock in the black vote and regain the bounce he saw with black voters after his Milwaukee speech, he also received a bounce among Latino voters which has not dissipated.
The same LA tracking poll that showed a 10 point increase in favorability among black voters after that speech also showed a nearly 10 point increase in favorability among Latino voters. Before that speech, Trump was hovering around 27 percent favorability among Latino voters — afterward, he shot up to over 36 percent and is currently hovering around 34 percent.
“Both parties have done nothing for the middle class, but more specifically under the Obama administration Latinos, African-Americans, and the middle class have done worse under Democratic policy,” said Jorge Herrera, one of the directors of #LatinosForTrump. “Hillary Clinton will be more of the same. Donald Trump is the only one speaking of the need to uplift Hispanics and all others economically.”
Many are skeptical of Trump’s efforts. “It is better for Trump to attempt to appeal to all voters rather than trying to segment them,” said longtime Republican strategist Frank Luntz. Others disagree, however, and argue that Republicans’ failure with the black community rests in the fact that they have largely ignored it.
“Trump has a better shot at breaking through to minority communities than past Republicans simply because he’s bothered to ask for their votes,” said Eddie Zipperer, a political science professor at Georgia College.
“I think the message he’s using is one that really resonates,” said Zipperer. “So many cities are failing their African-American citizens, and those cities that have been run by Democrats for ages,” Zipperer added.
“Under Democrats the schools have gone to hell and crime is allowed to run rampant,” he continued. “Democrats can never fix the problems in these cities because the problems are a result of the progressive, anti-free market policies that have been in place for years.”
“Trump isn’t afraid to point it out, and a lot of people are going to start noticing the right-in-front-of-ours-eyes fact that progressivism is turning one American city after another into disaster areas,” he said. If Trump keeps on this message, I think he’ll significantly improve his numbers with African-American voters,” Zipperer suggested.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who called Trump’s outreach a “brilliant strategic move politically,” agrees. “I find it refreshing that Trump actually pleaded for the black vote,” said Clarke, who noted that Trump is the first to truly make the case to black voters that their lives have suffered under Democratic rule.
“Life has not improved [for minorities] with this monolithic [Democratic] voting pattern,” he said. “Anybody living in those ghettos knows [what Trump was talking about in Milwaukee] … they see it all around them.” Clarke dismissed those who doubt Trump’s ability to reach black voters, noting it was too soon to make any proper judgments on its success.
The fact that Trump is also brand new to the GOP, which doesn’t exactly come with positive name recognition in inner city black and Latino communities, lends his efforts at minority outreach more credibility and may increase their chance of success, Clarke suggested. “It’s kind of hard to paint him as a dyed-in-the-wool Republican,” Clarke said. Up until very recently, “no one’s ever accused Trump of racism,” Clarke pointed out.
Bishop E.W. Jackson, head of Exodus Faith Ministries and founder of S.T.A.N.D., also believes that Trump has a better chance of reaching black voters than previous Republicans.
“He is explicitly going after that vote and that’s something that Republicans generally speaking have failed to do in the past,” Jackson said.
Republicans “have been very reluctant to speak to the issues of the black community as a distinct group,” Jackson noted. “Republicans tend to want to talk to all Americans and say ‘the things I’m proposing apply to all Americans.'”
“But to reach the black community you have to speak to them directly,” he said. “Donald Trump is the first candidate for president in my memory who has done that, so I think he has a better chance than most Republicans.” Jackson said Trump could accelerate “the process of people thinking about what the Democratic party has done for the black community, which is nothing good, and most of the results of their policies have been terrible.”
“I’m very optimistic that he certainly has a better shot and I predict he will do better in the polls than most Republicans,” Jackson said.