Trump Still Trying To Sway Black Voters To The Side Of Republicans

Sep 22, 2016
Originally published on September 22, 2016 9:24 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been making stark appeals for the African-American vote.

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DONALD TRUMP: You do right every day by your community and your families. You raise children in the light of God. I will always support your church - always.

GREENE: That was Trump a few weeks ago in a Detroit church. Here is a Trump line from another event.

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TRUMP: Why do you have to lose? You're living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs.

GREENE: OK. NPR's Scott Detrow has been covering Trump's outreach to the black community, joins me in the studio.

And, Scott, what's the strategy here?

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Well - the last month or so, nearly every speech Trump has addressed black voters. Basically saying, hey, things aren't going well for you right now. You typically vote Democrat. What do you have to lose by voting for me?

GREENE: Look for another option, he says.

DETROW: Right. And this has widely been interpreted as less about winning the support of black voters, who are typically solid Democratic voters. And the argument is more about appealing to Republicans who are still hesitant about Trump.

You know, a lot of polls show high percentages of people every time have a perception that Trump appeals to bigotry. Things he said about Mexican immigrants, Muslims, other minority groups sticking in their mind.

The theory here is he's making this push to show that that isn't the case, that he does care about minority groups throughout the country.

GREENE: Doesn't sound like he always sticks to a very clear message, though?

DETROW: No. And I think actually yesterday is a great example of that. Early in the day, he was speaking about the fatal police shooting of Terrence Crutcher in Tulsa, Okla. And he criticized the police officers involved. He said he - it looks like Crutcher did everything right. He suggested that the police officer basically choked, that she didn't do the right thing there. And that was notable because typically Trump is very supportive of police officers. In fact, the Fraternal Order of Police has criticized him for saying this.

But then last night, he was on "Sean Hannity." Actually, this was taped yesterday, but it hasn't fully aired yet. But we have a clip of it.

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TRUMP: I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to. We did it in New York. It worked incredibly well. And you have to be proactive.

GREENE: Oh, this is stop-and-frisk, the policy of, I mean, stopping people on the streets. And a lot of people in New York felt that it was basically profiling, I mean, going after minorities.

DETROW: Highly controversial, it was a key issue in New York's last mayoral election. And data shows vast, vast majority of people stopped were young minority males.

And in fact, a federal judge said this was an unconstitutional practice. So backing stop-and-frisk like Trump just did seems to go directly against the appeals he has been making.

GREENE: So any idea whether this kind of outreach is working in some way for the Trump campaign?

DETROW: It depends how you measure it. When it comes to his poll numbers among black voters, no. Trump has been polling in single digits most of the year. In a lot of polls this year, he's placed fourth among black voters after Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. A big poll that came out yesterday from NBC and the Wall Street Journal had Trump at 7 percent among African-American voters, compared to 83 percent for Clinton.

But enthusiasm among black voters is a lot lower than it's been in 2012 and 2008. So if black voters simply stay home, if they don't show up at the numbers that they typically do, that could really hurt Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.

GREENE: And that could be very important in some of the states that we have been talking about. I mean, I remember in Ohio, the city of Cleveland was very important for George W. Bush.

In talking about whether or not the black vote would turn out, we're talking about states like North Carolina. I mean, that could be a very big deal.

DETROW: Absolutely. There are a lot of states here that are critical on the map, including - especially this increasingly tightening map that we're looking at, where whether or not black voters show up in large numbers like they have in the last few cycles could be make or break for Democrats.

GREENE: OK. NPR's Scott Detrow, thanks a lot.

DETROW: Anytime. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.