Think 2020 can’t get any stranger? What if Black and Hispanic voters provided just enough of a bump to give a Republican the presidential victory?
According to the polls, it could happen.
Unlike most Republican politicians, who publicly talk about reaching out to Black and Hispanic voters but privately moan that it’s a waste of time and money, President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE thinks both should be voting Republican.
His outreach apparently has made inroads, and it’s showing up in the polls.
Rasmussen’s most recent “National Daily Black Likely Voter” poll, which closed on Oct. 29, showed 31 percent of likely Black voters opting for Trump/Pence.
If that poll is close to accurate, it’s likely a game changer — both for this election and for the Republican Party.
In 2016 Trump received about 8 percent of the Black and 28 percent of the Hispanic vote.
He doesn’t have to carry a majority of either group to win. Indeed, there is a long-held notion that if a Republican presidential candidate can pull 20 percent of the Black vote, that candidate will win.
Nearly 30 years ago, three scholars writing in the Political Science Quarterly wrote, “Twenty percent [of the Black vote] appears to be the threshold Republican strategists believe will establish GOP dominance in American politics,” both in presidential and congressional elections.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) suggested last February that if Trump were to win between 14 and 16 percent of the Black vote in 2020, it would be “game over.”
Several polls emerged last December, before the pandemic hit, putting Black support for Trump in the mid-30s range. That seemed to many of us at the time to be on the high side.
Even so, it indicates significantly higher Black support for Trump than any Republican presidential candidate has seen in decades.
In June, a Wall Street Journal poll found that while Blacks still overwhelmingly supported Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles MORE, 12 percent of Black men supported Trump, including 17 percent of Black men under the age of 50.
And it’s not just Black men, NPR reports, “Many Latino men are supporting President Trump this election.” The story cites a recent New York Times/Siena College poll that shows that while Biden has a big lead among Hispanic women, he leads Trump by only eight points among Hispanic men.
And Democrats have been noticing the shift. The head of Priorities USA, the largest Democratic super PAC, told the Journal their polling was indicating the same trend, “something that Democrats need to address head-on.”
Remember, Trump doesn’t have to win the Latino and Black vote, just sufficiently grow the GOP’s usually minuscule share.
One of the things I admire about Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken Rand Paul: 'Hatred for Trump' blocking research into ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment Masks and vaccines: What price freedom? MORE (R-Ky.) is that he has always been willing to go where most Republicans fear to tread — like speaking to the NAACP. Few if any of those attendees would even consider voting for Paul, but he seemingly gladly addresses such groups anyway.
As a presidential candidate in 2016, Donald Trump also reached out to Black and Hispanic voters. The left and the media immediately dismissed the notion. They were doing their best to convince the country that Trump is a racist, if not a closet white supremacist. They thought – hoped? – their efforts would ensure their lock on people of color.
But many minorities didn’t buy it, as was demonstrated in the unprecedented number of speakers of color at the Republican National Convention.
Of course, Trump’s policies and personality have managed to scramble a number of traditional voting blocks. Even if Trump succeeds in drawing significantly more Black and Hispanic votes, that may not be enough to offset some of the white voters he has alienated.
But if he does win, it will be a political upheaval — even more so if it’s the Black and Hispanic vote that gives him the edge.
Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MerrillMatthews.