Black voters backing Donald Trump in record numbers?

Latest polls show 17 percent of Black voters would vote for former president today – more than twice the number in 2016.

He was famously called the “former white supremacist in chief” by Democrat Congresswoman Cori Bush in 2021. Back in 2018, Hillary Clinton called former US President Donald Trump “ignorant” and “racist” after he reportedly made highly derogatory comments about Haiti and African countries.

Even Republican Nikki Haley, who recently dropped out of the race for the presidential nomination, called recent comments Trump made about African Americans “disgusting”.

But despite all this, and as the US prepares for a likely rematch between him and President Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election later this year, polls show that Donald Trump is only growing in popularity among Black American voters.

Why is that, and how much of a difference could that make in November?

What do the polls say?

In 2016, Trump received 8 percent of the Black vote according to the exit polls, the highest level of support by Black voters for any Republican since George Bush in 2000. By the 2020 US presidential election, support for Trump among Black voters had surged to 12 percent.

And, while current opinion polls vary, a recent survey from GenForward shows that if the elections were held today, 17 percent of Black voters would vote for Donald Trump while 20 percent said they would vote for someone other than Trump or Biden.

The Black voting bloc is unique in the US. Currently, it is the only group of voters which has consistently identified with the Democrat Party – reaching 77 percent of Black voters in favour of Democrats in 2020. By comparison, 42 percent of white voters and 63 percent of Latino voters identify as Democrats. Now, however, only 63 percent of Black voters – an all-time low since GenForward started collecting data in 1999 – say they will support Biden this year, according to the survey.

These numbers could spell trouble for Democrats in November’s presidential election, especially in swing states.

What is the history of the Black vote?

To understand the history of the Black vote and the Republican Party, it is necessary to look back at voting patterns in the early 20th century.

Before the1930s, the Republican and Democratic Parties received roughly equal support from both Black and White voters. The election of Franklin D Roosevelt in 1932, however, triggered a shift of Black voters to the Democratic Party. According to data from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Roosevelt gained 71 percent of the Black vote for his presidency in 1936. During the Great Depression, African Americans were disproportionally impacted by unemployment. Roosevelt’s New Deal, a set of economic recovery programmes attempted to correct these economic issues and Roosevelt would later say, “Among American citizens, there should be no forgotten men and no forgotten races.”

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