From the Left



Black voters appear to be closing their 2020 enthusiasm gap

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Remember when presidential candidate Donald Trump told a mostly white rally crowd in Michigan in 2016 that "at the end of four years, I guarantee you that I will get over 95% of the African American vote"?

How's that working out? Alas, he has a lot of ground to make up.

Yet, he hardly could have sounded more determined at the November "Black Voices for Trump" rally he convened in Atlanta. "We're going to campaign for every last African American vote in 2020."

Right. The man is nothing if not a salesman. His job-approval ratings among black Americans have bobbed up and down during his term, but not far from the 8% of black votes he received four years ago.

A notable exception occurred in early August when Rasmussen reported a surge to 27% in the president's black voter approval; however, it returned the following week to its usual mid-20% range in a poll that tends to report higher ratings for Trump than other pollsters do.

A shortfall in enthusiasm hurt Hillary Clinton, particularly among black voters, the most loyal constituency in Democratic ranks since the mid-1960s. Many people -- including me -- blamed a 7% drop in black voter turnout for Clinton's loss.


But now the black apathy that bedeviled Clinton's race appears to have faded. African American voters are more interested in voting in this year's presidential election than they were in 2016, according to a national poll and focus groups conducted by Third Way, a self-described moderate center-left research organization, and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a 50-year-old research center on black community issues.

The survey found that 45% said they were more motivated to vote in 2020 than in 2016, and 40% said they were just as motivated as last time. A resounding 76% were "almost certain" to show up at the polls, the survey's highest level of intensity.

The rise in motivation showed itself most noticeably in expressions of opposition to President Trump. Offered a half-dozen reasons to vote, the biggest group -- 40% -- chose the one that mentioned the president by name: "Donald Trump has been a disaster for our country, and we need to do everything we can to vote him out."

The second highest choice: 21% said their top reason to vote was that "Voting is the best way to make my voice heard in our government."


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