Polling this past weekend by the Trafalgar Group — the only polling firm that predicted Trump’s 2016 victory — shows big gains by the president among African-American and Latino voters, cutting deeply into the Democratic base.
In four polls that interviewed 1,000 likely voters each, sponsored by political commentator John Jordan, the president is getting 20-25 percent of the vote among black people and 25-40 percent of Hispanics in key states like Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan (each of which he is carrying by 3 points). Trump only got 6 percent of the black vote and 28 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2016.
During the second debate, I tuned out a little when moderator Kristen Welker asked a series of questions about race relations, police and protests. I figured that the last third of the match would feature boilerplate attacks by Biden and well-worn replies by Trump.
But was I wrong.
That last half-hour turned out to be the most important of the contest. Trump’s clear and articulate listing of the things he has done to raise minority incomes, release prisoners sentenced to long terms for minor crimes, create opportunity zones and fund historically black colleges appears to have driven his share of the black vote through the roof and Hispanics seem to have followed suit.
These findings, in four such diverse states, amount to a political earthquake.
And not just in this election. Such a gain among the minority vote is tantamount to a historic realignment.
Black Americans voted Republican, in deference to Lincoln’s legacy, until they switched to Kennedy and Johnson by a small margin in 1960 and in droves in 1964 after GOP candidate Barry Goldwater voted against the landmark Civil Rights Act.
Now they appear to be swinging back to the Republicans as Donald Trump delivers for them in a way that no president since Johnson (including Obama) has ever done.
For Latinos, the increasing assimilation of the two-thirds of the Hispanic voters who were born in the U.S. is also kindling a move to the president.
There may also be a linkage between the two groups in their joint move to Trump.
As more black people publicly embrace the president, Latinos increasingly may feel that they have permission to support him.
This narrative may also apply to many white voters who secretly support the president but keep it to themselves because the media has been shaming those who back Trump.
The sense that they would seem “deplorable” if they vote Republican may have kept them in the “undecided” column, led them to vote for third-party candidates or even encouraged them to lie to pollsters and say they are voting for Biden.
The biased media polls are designed to catalyze this sense of shame by making Trump backers feel engulfed in a sea of blue.
But as these white voters see black people supporting Trump, it conveys permission to vote for him.
Nobody in their right mind would predict this election (or anything in this year of constant change), but Trump sure looks good to me.
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