Daniel Henninger on Can President Trump Earn Black Support?

President Donald Trump delivers remarks on Iran, at his Mar-a-Lago property, Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Daniel Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. His weekly column, “Wonder Land,” appears in The Wall Street Journal each Thursday. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of BCNN1.


What if in November enough black Americans voted for Donald Trump to re-elect him into the presidency?

This unlikely straw has been in the political winds recently because in three opinion polls—Emerson, Marist and Rasmussen—President Trump registered about 30% support among black voters.

Asked to respond by InsideSources.com, former Hillary Clinton adviser Joel Payne said: “I have a better chance of jumping center for the Celtics tonight than Donald Trump having 30% support in the African-American community.” He may get the call.

The reason this unlikely 30% number breaks the seals in Democratic heads is that for years it has been a rule of thumb in politics that if black support for Republicans ever reached 20% of the total vote, a Democratic presidential candidate would not be able to win, ever.

A Gallup analysis of the Roper Center’s exit poll data has Republican candidates averaging about 10% of the black vote since 1976. In 2016, Mr. Trump topped out at 8%. Still, one wonders if Mr. Trump’s potential pull from black and Hispanic voters may be the sleeper issue of the 2020 campaign, the way conventional wisdom missed the 2016 Trump vote in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

During the latter election cycle, one of the most important, least noticed events was a July 2015 speech by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry in which he said it was time for black Americans to reconsider their political loyalties:

“Democrats have long had the opportunity to govern African-American communities,” he said. “It is time for black families to hold them accountable for the results. And I’m here to tell you it is Republicans, not Democrats, who are truly offering black Americans the hope for a better life for themselves and their children.”

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Source: Wall Street Journal