The GOP’s Case for the Minority Vote

Keith Koffler,

Fact: Blacks are worse off today after two terms of a Democratic president.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan asked American voters whether they were better or worse off than they were four years earlier. Enough thought their circumstances had improved to give Reagan a landslide re-election victory.

Is Donald Trump the one to deliver that message? He just might be.

In 2016, the time is ripe for the Republican nominee to ask the same question of African-Americans and other minorities, a question that if answered honestly, could help Donald Trump seize the presidency from the grasp of Hillary Clinton. It is an undeniable fact that, under the leadership of America’s first black president, blacks are worse off than when he took office.

Bringing this message to African-Americans could bolster the historically miniscule numbers of blacks who support the Republican presidential candidate and secure GOP victories in key swing states that are among the top 20 in terms of the concentration of African-Americans, including Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The economic and social conditions for blacks are so dire — and the failure for them of the welfare state so stark — that the black community may be receptive to some truth-telling and proposals that offer opportunity instead of free, dependency-inducing stuff.

blacktrumpsupporter_small1 The GOP's Case for the Minority Vote

But is Donald Trump the one to deliver that message? He just might be.

First of all, would it be too much stereotyping to say that Trump’s brutally forthright style might have some natural appeal for blacks? Let’s be honest. Whether it’s the unvarnished messaging of rap music or the unapologetic directness of black leaders like Al Sharpton, there is a sense that the black community takes its rhetoric straight. And given the sad state of affairs among so many African-Americans, straight talk, and not promises and pandering, may be just what black voters are ready to hear.

And there are a bevy of reasons for them to want to hear it.

Real median income among blacks has fallen and the number of African-Americans officially in a state of poverty rose.

Writing in March for the National Review, Hoover Institution fellow Deroy Murdock compiled the numbers that showcase the bleak state of affairs for blacks under President Obama. Real median income among blacks has fallen $556 — from $35,954 to $35,398 — and the number of African-Americans officially in a state of poverty rose from 25.8 percent in 2009 to 26.2 percent in 2014.

The number of blacks on food stamps has soared from 7.4 million to 11.7 million, according to the Department of Agriculture; that’s an increase of 58 percent. The percentage of blacks who own homes has declined from 46 percent to 42 percent, the Census Bureau reports.

The black unemployment rate has mercifully declined from the 12.7 percent level it was at when Obama took office. The bad news is that it remains at 8.8 percent as of March, while the rate for black teens is 23.3 percent, and the black labor force participation rate has fallen from 63.2 percent to 61.7 percent.

Just as bad, Obama has cast aside his unique opportunity to unite the races, instead exacerbating the racial divide by highlighting the rare but highly publicized cases of police unjustly killing black teenagers. The result has been an understandable tendency of law enforcement officers to pull back from policing black neighborhoods where they might be accused of applying racially-motivated brutality. Quite naturally, the murder rate has soared in many urban areas, resulting in the avoidable deaths of many young black men.

Under Obama, blacks are suffering, and blacks are dying. Trump, with his reputation for toughness, could appeal to African-Americans as a president who will restore law and order.

Already there are signs that opportunity knocks for Trump among black voters.

While Trump is accused of racism because of his comments about illegal Hispanic immigrants, his negative rhetoric has not been directed toward African-Americans. He is in a position to elucidate that one of the most profound bigotries in American society is that of white liberals who think blacks want and need welfare. Trump, the businessman who opposes trade deals that destroy jobs and illegal immigration that steals jobs, can sell himself as the candidate who will provide African-Americans with employment.

Already= there are signs that opportunity knocks for Trump among black voters. The most recent national poll, by Reuter/Ipsos, put Trump’s support among blacks at 12 percent. The number is consistent with other reliable, nonpartisan polls this year that have had him at anywhere from 7 percent to 12 percent. In 2012, Mitt Romney garnered the support of only 5 percent of black voters. George W. Bush, in his successful 2004 reelection campaign, took only 7 percent of the black vote.

No doubt, Trump has problems among America’s other top minority, Hispanics, losing to Clinton 73 percent to 16 percent among them in a Washington Post/Univision poll conducted in February. But Hispanics, while not as bad off as blacks, have had some of the same economic travails under Obama as everyone else, seeing their labor force participation rate decline from 67.5 percent to 65.5 percent. And Romney’s total Hispanic vote in the relatively close election of 2012 was only 17 percent. 

What’s more, it’s important to note that Trump’s heated rhetoric was directed at illegal immigrants, not Hispanics generally. And many Latinos share Trump’s views on immigration policy. A Gallup poll conducted last year found that 42 percent of American-born Hispanics disapprove of Obama’s executive actions that would prevent the deportation of illegals, while 67 percent of Hispanics say they could back a candidate who disagrees with them on immigration policy.

So don’t believe the conventional wisdom. Rich, white, and sharp-tongued Trump has an opportunity to make inroads among the minorities that Hillary Clinton thinks she has all sewn up. And it could tip the election his way.