Might a shift among the black vote in November put President Donald Trump over the top in the race against Joe Biden? While most black voters favor Biden by a wide margin, they do not support the presumptive Democratic nominee to the same degree that they supported Hillary Clinton just before the 2016 election, according to a new CNN polling analysis.
CNN’s Harry Enten examined over 10 national live interview polls that shined a light on black voter sentiment since the beginning of the George Floyd protests. These polls represent more than 1,000 interviews with black voters.
Among those voters, Biden leads by 83 percent to 8 percent, a 75-point margin. While that means the Democrat still enjoys a sizeable lead over Trump for these voters, this margin is smaller than Hillary Clinton’s 79-point margin over Trump in polls taken just before the 2016 election. Both Clinton then and Biden now enjoy 83 percent support among black voters, but Trump has picked up some of the votes that went to third-party candidates in 2016.
This shift might translate to about 0.5 percent of the vote nationwide, which does not seem significant — but in a close race, it could make the difference. Most polls have Biden far ahead of Trump, but a Rasmussen poll released Wednesday found the two candidates essentially neck-and-neck, with Biden at 47 percent and Trump at 45 percent. The race is likely to tighten as November approaches.
Trump is likely performing better than Republicans normally do with black voters. The American National Election Studies pre-election polls show that since 1964, the average Democrat has enjoyed 86 percent to the average Republican’s 6 percent. That 80-point margin is wider than Biden’s current 75-point lead.
Black voters also seem to approve of Biden less than they did of Clinton in 2016. An average of six live interview polls since late May puts Biden’s approval rating at 74 percent favorable and 15 percent unfavorable among black voters. Clinton, however, averaged an 81 percent favorable and 13 percent unfavorable rating among black voters in the polls taken before November 2016. Biden also fares worse than Clinton did among Hispanic voters.
The Democrat’s current poll bump appears to be concentrated among white voters.
Meanwhile, Trump is more popular with black voters now than he was in 2016. His net favorability with this group is negative 76 points, better than the negative 81 points he had at the end of the 2016 campaign.
Some polls have shown Trump’s approval among black voters doubling since 2016. In the recently-released book Coming Home: How Black Americans Will Re-Elect Trump, black former Air Force officer Vernon Robinson and conservative pollster Bruce Eberle predict that Trump could win as much as 20 percent of the black vote in key swing states — as he already did, they argue, in Pennsylvania in 2016.
“Democrats have been telling black voters year after year after year that all Republicans are racist. I would be willing to bet that in those swing states if we point out that the Democrats are really racist, we will win more than 20 percent of the black vote,” Eberle told PJ Media in January. Eberle argued that “Blexit” rallies against Democrats and the historically low unemployment rate for black Americans before the pandemic might represent a growing trend among black voters dissatisfied with Democrats.
As many George Floyd protests devolved into deadly and destructive riots that have killed at least 22 Americans (most of them black), Biden has downplayed the violence and demonized President Donald Trump for sending federal law enforcement to restore law and order to Portland. This rhetoric should hurt him among black voters, whose lives and livelihoods are getting ruined amid the violence.
While the polls appear to give Biden a monstrous edge over Trump right now, the lackluster support for Biden among black and Hispanic voters could be a warning sign for the Democrat’s chances in November. If the polls are oversampling Democrats, these trends may be more significant than the top-line numbers showing Biden head and shoulders ahead of the president.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.