President Donald Trump said many times in 2016 that he would be the first Republican president to win the majority of black voters in his re-election campaign. To many, this sounded like the kind of empty hyperbole that Trump regularly engages in – more entertainment than serious claim. But while Trump is unlikely to come anywhere close to winning the black majority next November, his campaign is launching a determined effort to woo black voters over to his side. And with the way things currently stand demographically and politically, even chipping away at five percentage points or so could make a huge difference in the election’s outcome.
According to Politico, the campaign is focused on getting black voters to embrace the president’s policies and the economic results…and hopefully getting them to ignore his tweets. The Baltimore remarks, the Al Sharpton comments, the Charlottesville thing, and so on. His campaign spokespeople admit that Trump is not always careful with his speech, but that voters should overlook the occasional “inartful” statement and recognize the immutable facts: Namely, that black unemployment rates are at record lows.
The African Americans for Trump coalition is being organized by Katrina Pierson, senior adviser to the Trump campaign, and a few campaign staffers. The launch date is tentatively set for after Labor Day. Already the Trump campaign has rolled out two other coalitions this summer including Latinos for Trump and Women for Trump, meant to show the president’s broad support among groups beyond white men.
“The campaign is working hard to get the president’s message to all voters,” Pierson said.
And longtime African American Trump supporters agree with the campaign’s assessment that voters should worry about results over rhetoric.
“I think people get caught up in the emotional with President Trump,” said Georgia businessman and longtime Trump supporter, Bruce LeVell, who led Trump’s National Diversity Coalition in 2016. “Don’t get caught up in the emotions, pay attention to the numbers, not the he said-she said. I think black male voters, especially, will be a game changer for President Trump’s reelection.”
Frankly, we think it would be just as effective – if not moreso – to challenge the idea that anything Trump has said qualifies as “racist” in the slightest. What is racist about telling the truth about Baltimore? Why is it racist to suggest that there were “fine people on both sides” in Charlottesville? What is racist about labeling Al Sharpton a con man? The word con man has no definition if Sharpton isn’t one.
But the strategy of seeking black voter support could be a powerful one. Trump won 8 percent of the black vote in 2016, and, depending on who the Democratic nominee turns out to be, that is a number that can easily be improved upon. If Democrats can’t count on massive black turnout, they can’t win. It’s worth a shot.