Democrat Hillary Clinton has called Republican Donald Trump’s promotion of the birther issue racist, yet Trump has asserted he’s the black community’s last, best hope at achieving the American dream.
“What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump?” the candidate asked at a recent appearance in Dimondale, Michigan, before an all-white audience without offering any concrete solutions.
President Barack Obama earlier this month told African-American voters if they sit out the election, it would be an insult to him and his legacy. Trump for years claimed Obama wasn't a U.S. citizen, although he recently said he recognized that Obama was born in Hawaii.
“If you care about our legacy, realize everything we stand for is at stake. All the progress we’ve made is at stake in this election,” Obama said at a Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner in Phoenix. “And there is one candidate who will advance those things, and there is another candidate whose defining principle, the central theme of his candidacy is opposition to all that we’ve done.”
Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times/USC daily tracking poll indicates Clinton is favored by 77.9 percent of black voters to 14.3 percent for Trump.
African-Americans represented 13 percent of the turnout in 2008 and 2012 when Obama was on the ballot. But in 2000 and 2004, they represented just 10 percent and 11 percent, respectively. The question is whether they will turn out in big numbers Nov. 8 without Obama on the ballot.
Democrats fear the answer is no. The party always has owned the black vote but if turnout is low, Clinton likely can kiss the White House goodbye.
“It's tough to overstate just how critical black voters have become to today's Democratic coalition, particularly when it comes to the Electoral College,” the Cook Political Report noted, saying the black vote in 2012 accounted for Obama’s margin of victory in Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, delivering 112 electoral votes. Without those electoral votes, Obama would have lost decisively.
Support from black women is even more crucial. American Progress reported black women voted at a higher rate than any other group in 2012.
Aaron Young, 32, of Detroit told the Detroit Free-Press that though he’s voted Democratic in the past, he likely will follow the lead of some of his friends and either write in a candidate or vote Green Party.
John Prince, 33, an assistant dean at a New York middle school, told the Free-Press he plans to leave the choice for president blank.
“This is an unpopular view, but Donald Trump in office might be what this country needs,” Prince said. “It might be the best thing ever. … The bigots, the prejudiced people … they feel so comfortable with Donald Trump to come out and say, ‘Get the Mexicans out of here.’ ‘Get the Muslims out of here.’ If Hillary comes in, they go back to their shelves. They go back to being our judges. They go back to being our lawyers. They go back to being our teachers. They hide. Donald Trump gets in there, and we have a heightened state of alert.”