It wasn’t that long ago that Donald Trump liked to boast about his support from black voters. And although Trump had a history of controversy on issues of race, it wasn’t that crazy to think he could at least outperform the GOP’s last two presidential nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney, with black voters. After all, McCain and Romney were polling at less than 5 percent among black voters after their conventions, and Trump isn’t facing off against the first black presidential nominee of a major party.
But Trump is polling worse among black voters than almost every single Republican presidential nominee since 1948 in polls taken between the party conventions and Election Day.
Trump is currently in fourth place among black voters. You read that correctly: He’s trailing Hillary Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein. Any one national poll typically has only about 100 African-American respondents — too small a sample to make much of the results. So here’s an average of the four live-interview surveys taken since the conventions, from ABC News/Washington Post, Fox News, Marist, and NBC News/Wall Street Journal:
|ABC News/Washington Post||83%||4%||8%||2%|
|NBC News/Wall Street Journal||86||0||4||1|
To find out how Trump is doing compared with past Republican nominees, I looked at the American National Election Studies surveys since 1948. Some 2016 voters haven’t decided who they’re going to vote for, so to be fair to Trump, I looked at only the pre-election surveys (as opposed to the post-election ANES surveys), because they allowed respondents to indicate they were undecided. It’s not pretty.
Since 1948, the average Republican nominee earned about 10 percent of the black vote. Even since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, when black voters began moving into the Democratic Party, the average Republican nominee got an average of about 7 percent. Trump is pulling in about one-fifth of that.2
Black voters will probably account for 10 percent to 15 percent of all voters this year, so Trump will really have to overperform with other voters to have a chance of winning the White House.
Trump’s poor polling puts him in un-welcome company. Barry Goldwater is the only candidate whose pre-election support among African-Americans was worse than Trump’s is; he received the support of no African-American respondents in the 1964 ANES survey. Goldwater, of course, stood in opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. McCain was at 1.4 percent in 2008, just about what Trump is getting now. But McCain, as I mentioned, was running against the first major-party black nominee.
Trump isn’t widely known for opposing major civil rights legislation, and he isn’t facing Obama. But perhaps because he’s made so many racially charged comments, including as a leading voice of the birther movement, he is so disliked by black voters that he’s the first Republican nominee since 1948 to be polling below second place among them before the election. (He’s the first to be polling in fourth.) Johnson and Stein, whom most voters have never even heard of, are ahead of Trump. For a Republican Party that wanted to reach out to minority voters after the 2012 election, that’s not good.