Searching for the Black Trump Supporter

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Photo: Johnny Silvercloud via Flickr
Media Outlet: the Atlantic

Theodore Johnson wrote for the Atlantic about Trump and his few African American supporters:

Following a recent pickup basketball game in Connecticut, where guards are often let down in more ways than one, two black men made a confession to the group: They plan to vote for Donald Trump. One was a police officer who valued the Republican nominee’s support for law enforcement. The other’s vote was more against Hillary Clinton than it was for Trump—his way of expressing how upset he was with President Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill and for being stopped several dozen times for “driving while black.” As members of the most overcriminalized demographic in the United States, it’s unsurprising that law-enforcement concerns are central to these men’s politics. But that they’d arrive at supporting Trump for entirely different reasons is an interesting paradox.
Six hundred miles south, just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, a similar scenario plays out as a black veteran makes a spirited case for Trump to his barber, with the entire shop tuned in. As a small business owner, he admires Trump’s personal success and blames his own inability to get ahead on day laborers, who he suspects are undocumented and who he says are cutting into his home-contracting services. He tells of attending two Trump rallies and then, amid chuckles from the other men, launches into a familiar refrain: “Build that wall! Build that wall!”
It’s an uncontested truth that Trump remains historically unpopular among black voters. And there are no signs of this changing, even with Trump’s recent attempts at African American outreach. In one poll this summer, he achieved the remarkable feat of getting zero percent of the black vote in two key swing states, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Though there have been outliers, his unfavorability rating among blacks is bleak—close to 90 percent of black respondents in one recent survey had “very” or “somewhat” unfavorable feelings toward him—and Trump is currently polling between 2 percent and 6 percent with black voters nationally.


Author:

Theodore Johnson is an Eric & Wendy Schmidt Fellow at New America. He is a national security research manager and an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy.