Black people have generally voted Democrat since the 1930s, which should benefit Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the general election, if tradition holds true. But if Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, it could be the Black vote that puts him into the White House.
Trump will not need the majority of Blacks to vote for him, and political pundits say it would be farfetched to believe that he would get anywhere near the majority.
There is no question that Trump has captured the attention of Black communities throughout this country. With his business knowledge and promise of more jobs for all Americans, some believe that he could sway enough Black voters to give himself an advantage over his competition.
While Trump continues to kick Black protesters out of his rallies, be involved in issues with the Klu Klux Clan, and give speeches that continue to pit Blacks vs. Whites in racially charged rallies across the nation, he may come to rely on the few Black votes that he can muster up to win the election in November.
Trump has been spreading the message that he has Black support. In fact, he a recent poll showed that 25 percent of Black people support him in a hypothetical race against Clinton. But that poll was from September, and more recent polls are dramatically different.
In a Gallup poll, Trump is the most unfavorable GOP presidential candidate among Black adults. Sixty-eight percent found him unfavorable. The only other candidate who received more than 50 percent of the vote was Jeb Bush. In comparison, Hillary Clinton was unfavorable by only 12 percent of Black adults, and Bernie Sanders gained a 10 percent unfavorable rating. No Democratic candidate received more than 13 percent. The lowest score in that category for the GOP presidential candidates was John Kasich, who received a 15 percent unfavorable mark, followed by Ben Carson at 18 percent.
Trump said that his plans to improve the economy for Black Americans is why he is leading in the polls with African American voters. But a poll from Quinnipiac University shows that 92 percent of Black people thought that the real estate mogul did not care about their needs and problems. Seventy-three percent of Blacks also said that Trump is not trustworthy.
The poll also asked if Black people would vote for Clinton or Trump if the two made it to the general election. Only three percent said that they would choose Trump.
In the 2008 and 2012 elections respectively, former governor Mitt Romney received six percent of the Black vote, and John McCain four percent. However both lost to Obama.
Republican President Gerald Ford won the largest percentage of the Black vote in modern history with 16 percent, but he still lost to Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter.
While many people, including Blacks, have tuned in at record numbers to hear Trump speak, his viewpoints may be turning many Black voters off, if you look at the polls. This may very well lead to the question: Is he really making any effort to win the Black vote?
Looking at his positions on issues, indicates that Trump is on board with the other Republican candidates when it comes to healthcare. He wants to repeal President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law, which many Black voters support.
“I would end Obamacare and replace it with something terrific, for far less money for the country and for the people,” Trump said in April 2015.
“We’re going to repeal and replace the horror known as Obamacare; it is a horror,” Trump said in February 2016.
According to his website, he will “work with Congress to make sure we have a series of reforms ready for implementation that follow free market principles and that will restore economic freedom and certainty to everyone in this country.”
Trump wants to “Make America great again,” but not by increasing the minimum wage. During a GOP presidential debate, he said that the wages are already too high. And despite some backlash, he did not quite back down. He said that what he meant was that the minimum wage should not be increased.
Trump promises to create more jobs so that raising the minimum wage will not be an issue, and he has said that a low minimum wage “is not a bad thing for this country.”
A tax-reform plan that Trump is promoting as part of his economic strategy is supposed to cut taxes for the middle class, which he believes would stimulate the economy. But a widely reported analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, found that the wealthy would benefit the most from Trump’s proposed tax cuts, and the national debt would also be increased.
Increased gun control does not appear to be on Trump’s agenda, because he does not plan to pass more legislation to restrict gun purchases, if elected. He plans to handle the issue in a different manner.
“The Second Amendment to our Constitution is clear. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed upon. Period,” Trump says on his website.
“We need to get serious about prosecuting violent criminals,” Trump continues. “The Obama administration’s record on that is abysmal. Violent crime in cities like Baltimore, Chicago and many others is out of control. Drug dealers and gang members are given a slap on the wrist and turned loose on the street. This needs to stop.”
While many community activists would like to see government funds used for community-based programs to prevent crime and mass incarceration, Trump’s plan could put more police officers on the streets of Black neighborhoods and continue to send African Americans to prison. Even as Black people across the nation have been protesting police brutality, Trump has fought back against the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We have to give power back to the police, because crime is rampant,” Trump said.
While the United States has less than five percent of the world’s population, this country houses about a quarter of the world’s prisoners. But Trump’s positions will more than likely not reverse this trend, believes observers.
Trump also wants to give more power to gun owners to protect themselves.
“Here’s another important way to fight crime—empower law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves,” Trump said on his website. “Law enforcement is great, they do a tremendous job, but they can’t be everywhere all of the time. Our personal protection is ultimately up to us.”
This comment could alienate Black voters, given that George Zimmerman seemed to have a similar logic in his confrontation with Trayvon Martin.
Even though Trump says that he has a good relationship with Black people and has Black support, he may not need the Black vote to win the presidency. A review of past elections with Republicans winners found that George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan demonstrated they could win the top spot with less than 10 percent of Black ballots cast.
The storied history of Blacks and the GOP
By Merdies Hayes
OW Staff Writer
The African American communmity today represents a stalwart voting block of the Democratic party. Years ago, however, this wasn’t always true. The shift of Blacks from the Republican party of Abraham Lincoln began in earnest during the Roosevelt administration some eight decades ago. Prior to that, Blacks voted predominately Republican but the urgency of civil rights legislation and the elimination of “separate but equal” encouraged the majority of African American voters to opt for the Democratic party.
But the Democrats were not always friendly to the Black community. The stubborn entrencment of Jim Crow laws in the deep south were stridently upheld by White Democrats. But during the 12 years that FDR held office, more and more African Americans—at least those who were allowed to cast a vote—began to favor policies of (northern) Democrats.
Some Republicans, however, have cultured the Black vote in order to make inroads into this disenfranchised community. The most immediate administration would be that of Dwight Eisenhower who presided over the historic Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education which, in effect, struck down the old Plessy vs. Ferguson statute of 1896 declaring that “seperate but equal” was unconstitutional.
In 1952 and in 1956, a majority of Blacks backed the Republican party. Eisenhower gave them good reason to stay Republican. As soon as the landmark Brown decision was handed down, Eisenhower ordered desegregation of Washington, D.C., public schools. In 1957 and again in 1959, Eisenhower sent strong civil rights legislation to Capitol Hill to enforce the long-neglected 14th Amendement as well as the 15th Amendment, the latter to give southern Blacks the right to vote. Also in 1957, Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock, Ark., to protect Black children entering Central High School.
During this period, Senate Democrats led by Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Richard Russell of Georgia railed aginst Eisenhower’s civil rights legislation, filibustering the bills and succeeding in watering down their strongest provisions. When White southerners demanded that violators of the new civil rights bill be allowed a jury trial (before all-White juries), then-senator John F. Kennedy voted with the South and Vice President Richard Nixon broke the tie in the Senate to kill the southern amendment.
In 1960, Blacks voted for Kennedy by a percentage margin of 70-30—more than enough to give the young New York Democrat the victory over Nixon for the presidency.
The Republican party would not return to the White House until January 1969 and by 1971, President Richard Nixon had approved affirmative action measures for federal contractors. The U.S. Department of Labor was ordered to develop an “acceptable affirmative action program” including “an analysis of areas” within which the contractor has proven “deficient” in the utilization of minority groups and women, and further, goals and timetables to correct the deficiencies.
During the administration of Lyndon Johnson, 68 percent of Black children in the South were attending all-Black schools. By 1974, however, that number had fallen to just 8 percent. This accomplishment was said to have been achieved via the shrewd political skills of Nixon. In his book “With Nixon,” author Ray Price outlined Nixon’s school desegration goals: “Nixon’s aim was to use the minimum coercion necessary to achievfe the essential national goal, to encourage local initiative, to respect diversity, and, to the extent possible, to treat the entire nation equally—Blacks equally with Whites, the South equally with the North.
The Nixon administration had Vice President Spiro Agnew chair a special cabinet committee on education, the purpose of which was to find the best course of action to peacefully desegrate Southern schools in accordance with a 1969 court order. The committee voted to create several state advisory panels, which were staffed with a diverse corss-section of leaders from each Southern state. These committees included White segregationalists, Black civil rights leaders, and other government officials.
There was little reason to believe that these state advisory committees would accomplish their objectives. Nixon, however, pressed on and in 1970 he met with the 15-member Mississippi State Advisory Committee and in his memiors he recalled the optimism expressed by one Black committee member: “Mr. President, the day before yesterday I was in jail for going to the wrong beach. Today, sir, I am meeting you. If that’s possible, anything can happen.”
Something did happen. In an incredible gesture of good faith, Warren Wood, president of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, and Dr. Gilbert Mason, president of the Biloxi NAACP, each agreed to serve as co-chairmen of the Mississippi committee. According to Price, Mason christened his new relationship with Wood by saying: “If you and I can’t do this, nobody else in the state of Mississippi can. We’re probably the only Black and White men in the state who can get together on something like this.”