During the 2016 campaign, candidate Donald Trump stood in front of largely white crowds and asked black voters to consider, “What the hell do you have to lose?”
Four years later, the president has a new message for black voters: Look what I’ve delivered.
Trump and his campaign will be launching a new “Black Voices for Trump” outreach initiative in Atlanta on Friday dedicated to “recruiting and activating Black Americans in support of President Trump,” according to the campaign. Much of that effort will focus on highlighting ways that African Americans have benefited from the Trump economy, according to advisers.
“Imagine the kind of results with four more years of winning,” said senior campaign adviser Katrina Pierson.
That prediction is met with skepticism from critics, however, given Trump’s consistently dismal approval rating with black voters, who overwhelmingly disapprove of the job he’s doing.
Trump has spent much of the last four years engaged in racially charged attacks, going after minority members of Congress, claiming “no human being” would want to live in rat “infested,” majority-minority Baltimore and claiming that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the deadly Charlottesville protest against white supremacists.
“I think black Americans are not the audience for these outreach efforts,” said Theodore Johnson, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice who is an expert in politics. He said the appeal appears to be more about motivating Trump’s existing voter base. While Trump might be able to maintain the low level of black support he received in 2016, or perhaps expand it by one or two points, he sees little evidence the president can change many minds.
“I think this is not going to move the needle at all,” Johnson said.
In 2016, 6% of black voters supported Trump, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of people who participated in its polls and were confirmed to have voted. There is no indication his support is growing. Polling shows that African Americans continue to be overwhelmingly negative in their assessments of the president’s performance, with his approval hovering around 1 in 10 over the course of his presidency, according to Gallup.
Indeed, in 2018, 92% of black women and 87% of black men supported Democrats in midterm congressional races, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 115,000 midterm voters nationwide.
Yet Trump’s campaign dismissed the numbers, insisting the campaign has seen favorable movement and arguing the president can increase his margins with black voters by bringing new people into the fold.
“The polls have never been favorable for Trump, and the only poll that matters is on Election Day,” Pierson said.
The campaign has launched similar coalitions for women and Latinos.
Darrell Scott, a black Ohio pastor and a longtime supporter of the president who will be part of the new coalition and attend Friday’s event, said that in 2015 and 2016, supporters trying to sell Trump to black voters could only point forward to share things they anticipated from Trump. Democrats, meanwhile, were warning that a Trump victory would be devastating for African Americans. Scott said someone once approached him at a gas station and said, not in jest, that if Trump won, “we’d all be going back to Africa.”
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Source: PBS Newshour