Trump renews push for black voters, but they’re looking at third parties too

“It seems to me this is… partially an artifact of Donald Trump perhaps being better liked among black voters, but it’s also a real artifact of Joe Biden being significantly less liked among black voters than he was four years ago,” CNN's Enten concluded.

Published: June 17, 2024 11:00pm

Updated: June 18, 2024 3:01pm

Former President Donald Trump has expanded his overtures to the black community ahead of the 2024 presidential election, largely repeating the pitches to that constituency he made in 2020, but that bloc appears reluctant to embrace him over President Joe Biden and seems more interested in alternative options.

The campaign launched its “Black Americans for Trump” coalition over the weekend, hoping to win over black voters primarily appealing to their economic interests and hammering inflation, immigration, crime, cost-of-living, and criminal justice reform.

“Never has it been more clear that Joe Biden’s reckless reversal of President Trump’s America First policies is the very reason why Black communities have been utterly decimated under his Administration with sky-high grocery and gas prices, untenable housing costs, an invasion of illegal migrants and rampant violent crime,” Team Trump Senior Advisor Lynne Patton said in a press release. “On day one, Donald Trump will reinstate all his proven policies on immigration, law and order, energy, and the economy and put Black America First.”

The initiative closely resembles the Latino Americans for Trump coalition, which the campaign launched earlier this month. But though Trump has focused on similar issues with that constituency, he has noticeably tailored his pitch toward the black community in recent rallies, emphasizing crime and criminal justice reform in light of his own conviction and visiting major American cities that are home to many black voters.

The campaign announced a June 22 rally in Philadelphia on Monday, following up on his weekend appearance in Detroit and his prior efforts in New York City and the surrounding area. A major population center in a swing state, Philadelphia was also a major focus of Trump’s election fraud claims during the 2020 election.

"The Biden campaign sees that President Trump is up to 23% in the polls in battleground states with Black voters, a record high that we haven’t seen in decades," Trump Campaign Black Media Director Janiyah Thomas told Just the News. "President Trump knows that Black voters prefer lower taxes, which he delivered in his first term, and like all Americans, oppose Biden’s hiking tax rates. Ultimately, President Trump's economic policies offered more opportunities to build generational wealth for Black families."

The black vote in 2020

Trump earned 8% support among black voters in the 2020 election, compared to Biden’s 92%, according to the Pew Research Center. The final result stood in stark contrast to polling data that cycle which had suggested Trump was poised to win a considerably larger slice of the black electorate in 2020, including data suggesting he would claim a percentage in the mid-20s and enjoyed unexpectedly high approval ratings among minority communities.

In 2020, the black electorate was particularly energized in light of the death of George Floyd and the nationwide demonstrations seeking police and criminal justice reform. Trump, eager to win over the voting bloc, tailored his pitch to address their concerns.

Trump in 2018 signed the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill that addressed minimum mandatory sentences and other reforms to incarceration practices. The legislation featured heavily in Trump’s campaign messaging at the time. 

He further unveiled the “Platinum Plan,” a policy agenda focusing on economic opportunity for black Americans, the creation of small businesses in those communities, health care, and other crime and safety issues. Going into the election, moreover, Trump racked up endorsements from high-profile rappers such as 50 cent, Lil Wayne, and Lil Pump.

In the end, however, Trump’s 8% support was only a modest improvement on his 6% support from black voters in 2016.

Trump’s campaigning thus far

Speaking in Detroit over the weekend, Trump reiterated his prior criticisms of Biden’s authorship of a 1994 crime bill while serving as a senator for Delaware. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was a comprehensive overhaul of federal law enforcement, including funding for federal officers, an assault weapons ban, the expansion of the death penalty, and sentencing.

"Biden wrote the devastating 1994 crime bill, talking about ‘super predators.’ That was Biden. You know, he walks around now talking about the Black vote. He’s the king of the ‘super predators,’" Trump said in Detroit.

He previously pointed to the legislation during the 2020 campaign, attempting to cast Biden as the architect of mass incarceration of black offenders, and to contrast that effort with his passage of the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform initiative that addressed mandatory minimum sentences.

Trump’s Detroit and upcoming Philadelphia events appear to be an attempt to build on existing momentum from his New York City-based campaign efforts while he stood trial. Earlier this year, Trump campaigned heavily within the Big Apple, visiting Harlem and later holding a rally in New Jersey.

"Black voters are also frustrated with the Biden administration prioritizing illegal immigrants over our interests and oppose Biden's policies on men in women's sports," Thomas added. "President Trump sees this and will continue to show up and listen to the issues facing our communities, as he has done in Atlanta, Harlem, and the Bronx."

His appearance in Detroit saw him address issues of rising crime in major cities, saying “[l]ook, the crime is most rampant right here and in African American communities.”

"More people see me, and they say, ‘Sir, we want protection. We want police to protect us. We don’t want to get robbed and mugged and beat up or killed because we want to walk across the street to buy a loaf of bread,’" he said, according to Fox News.

What does the data say?

Trump is largely making a similar pitch to black voters in 2024 that he did in the previous cycle, highlighting the economic and crime situation in their communities. This time, however, some data suggests that those voters may be more willing to listen.

The campaign on Monday highlighted a CNN clip showing Trump with 21% support among black voters rising to 21% from a 7% figure from 2020. That clip also pointed to a change in black voters under the age of 50, a group Biden won by 80 points in 2020 and is now leading by only 37 points.

“If this polling is anywhere near correct, we’re looking at a historic moment right now where black voters under the age of 50, which have historically been such a big part of the Democratic coalition, are leaving it in droves,” CNN’s Harry Enten said.

The clip also showed analysis of a recent New York Times poll that found Biden leading Trump with black voters in battleground states 63% to 23%, though with the inclusion of third-party options, Biden led with 49% to Trump’s 14% and independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy’s 11%.

“It seems to me this is… partially an artifact of Donald Trump perhaps being better liked among black voters, but it’s also a real artifact of Joe Biden being significantly less liked among black voters than he was four years ago,” Enten concluded.

A Pew Research Survey in April, meanwhile, showed Trump winning 18% of black voters to Biden’s 77% in a one-on-one matchup. The evident expansion of Trump’s appeal over the past four years with black voters appears to have been largely driven by younger members of that community.

Black voters aged 50 or older backed Biden 84% to Trump’s 9%. Younger voters, however, backed Biden 68% to Trump’s 29%. Black men were marginally more likely to back Trump than black women, with 20% of men doing so compared to 16% of women. Trump does appear to be earning support outside of black Republicans, however, as 12% of black voters identify with the GOP compared to 83% who identify with Democrats.

The former president’s messaging, moreover, does seem to be somewhat in line with black voter priorities. Seventy-nine percent said that improving education ought to be a top priority, whereas 76% said strengthening the economy ought to be so. Seventy-four percent prioritized stabilizing Social Security, with 72% said the same of reducing the cost of health care, 70% said addressing the problems of the poor, and 68% emphasized reducing crime.

More localized data, moreover, does appear to show Trump poised to improve on his 8% showing, albeit in specific states. A USAToday/Suffolk University poll released over the weekend showed Trump with 10.8% of the black vote in Pennsylvania, compared to Biden’s 56.2%.

While Trump’s support appears to be moderately higher than it was in the last election, Biden appears to be losing support to independents Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Cornell West, who earned 7.4% and 7.6% of that bloc, respectively. The numbers were worse for Biden in Michigan, where he earned 54.4% of black voter support, compared to Trump’s 15.2%, Kennedy’s 8%, and West’s 6.2%.

That survey appeared to show the black communities in those states with relatively different priorities than the Pew survey, with both placing inflation/economy, threats to democracy, healthcare, abortion, crime and proxy wars, in their top issues. Notably, concern about crime in Pennsylvania was more than double that of Michigan, with 11.6% of black voters in the Keystone State prioritizing the issue compared to 5.2% in the Wolverine State.

Is Trump gaining ground or is Biden losing it?

While the above surveys do appear to show Trump gaining a modest amount of support within the black community and that Biden has lost appeal, many black voters appear more interested in third-party options.

The phenomenon does not appear unique to that bloc, however, as a recent survey of Latino voters in battleground states suggested that younger voters in that black were exploring third parties instead of looking to Trump.

“If you were to look at where Latinos are in battleground states, 59 percent of them are voting for Biden and 39 percent of them are voting for Trump,” Voto Latino CEO María Teresa Kumar told The Hill this month. “And our poll asked the thornier question, if we open up… including a third party, how does that poll?”

“What we found was really alarming, in the sense that 14 percent of them would vote for a third party, with a majority of the votes being taken away from Biden,” she went on. “So instead of being at 59 percent, he dropped down to 49 percent. And Trump fell only 5 points.”

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X.

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