Donald Trump repeatedly boasts that he’ll win over black voters in the 2016 presidential election, pointing to questionable poll results, an elusive economic platform, and unusual black surrogates, including former presidential primary candidate Ben Carson, reality-television star Omarosa Manigualt, and the fascinating southern-sister duo of Diamond and Silk. Certainly, he’s amassed an unlikely black following that is publicly and passionately “Team Trump,” but it’s doubtful that this small group of supporters will translate into meaningful black Republican voter returns.
The Republican Party’s relationship with black voters can at best be described as contentious. At worst, it’s downright hostile. In the last 50 years, no more than 15 percent of black voters have voted for Republican presidential candidates or identified as Republican.
The idea that Trump would succeed where no GOP candidate has succeeded since Richard Nixon in 1960 is mystifying, especially since the billionaire is running a campaign fueled by appeals to racial anxiety and hostility, xenophobia, and economic distress. Vague platitudes about economic uplift and flashy public-relations events with conservative black ministers have long been the bread-and-butter of Republican minority outreach efforts, and have long yielded little return. This is especially true when race is evident. Though not single-issue voters, African Americans often use their racial identity and experience as a guiding principle, informing their decisions on politics and political candidates. And with Trump, their opinion is overwhelmingly negative.