Trump Polling Worse Among African-Americans Than Any Republican Since Barry Goldwater

Donald Trump's support among African-Americans is at historic lows, and seems unlikely to recover.

Donald Trump Shrug

Donald Trump isn’t just having problems with women, he’s also on a path to do worse among African-Americans than virtually any Republican nominee since Thomas Dewey in 1948:

It wasn’t that long ago that Donald Trump liked to boast about his support from black voters. And although Trump had a history of controversy on issues of race, it wasn’t that crazy to think he could at least outperform the GOP’s last two presidential nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney, with black voters. After all, McCain and Romney were polling at less than 5 percent among black voters after their conventions, and Trump isn’t facing off against the first black presidential nominee of a major party.

But Trump is polling worse among black voters than almost every single Republican presidential nominee since 1948 in polls taken between the party conventions and Election Day.

Trump is currently in fourth place among black voters. You read that correctly: He’s trailing Hillary Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

This assessment comes from FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten, who notes that in an average of the four most recent national polls that include Trump, Hillary Clinton, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein Trump is averaging 2%, which puts him behind both Johnson, who is averaging four percent of the African-American vote, and Stein, who is averaging five percent, and of course Hillary Clinton who averages 86% of the African-American vote, a number that puts her very close to the high levels of support that President Obama received from this demographic group and which will no doubt help her in holding on to states that the President won in the last two elections such as Florida, Virginia, and Ohio and which, along with Republican defections and independent voters, could help her do better than expected in states such as North Carolina and Georgia that Mitt Romney won in 2012. It will also likely help the Clinton campaign blunt any effort by the Trump campaign to create an alternative path to victory through the Midwest thanks to large urban populations of African-Americans in states such as Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

By way of comparison, here”s a chart showing the average pre-election polling of African-American support for Republican Presidential candidates going back to 1948:

GOP African-American

Leaving aside 2008, which is arguably an anomaly given the fact that the first African-American major party nominee was on the ballot, Trump is polling worse than any Republican candidate since Barry Goldwater, who had been one of the chief opponents of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Enten goes on:

Since 1948, the average Republican nominee earned about 10 percent of the black vote. Even since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, when black voters began moving into the Democratic Party, the average Republican nominee got an average of about 7 percent. Trump is pulling in about one-fifth of that.2

Black voters will probably account for 10 percent to 15 percent of all voters this year, so Trump will really have to overperform with other voters to have a chance of winning the White House.


Trump isn’t widely known for opposing major civil rights legislation, and he isn’t facing Obama. But perhaps because he’s made so many racially charged comments, including as a leading voice of the birther movement, he is so disliked by black voters that he’s the first Republican nominee since 1948 to be polling below second place among them before the election. (He’s the first to be polling in fourth.) Johnson and Stein, whom most voters have never even heard of, are ahead of Trump. For a Republican Party that wanted to reach out to minority voters after the 2012 election, that’s not good.

To say it’s ‘not good’ is an understatement. With Barack Obama on the ballot, it was never realistic that a Republican candidate would ever get anything more than a nominal amount of the African-American vote, and that’s precisely what happened. Exit polling in 2008 showed that JohnMcCain received four percent of the African-American vote in 2008 and that Mitt Romney received roughly seven percent of the vote from that group four years ago. This is substantially lower than in past elections when Republicans have garnered larger percentages of the black vote, although obviously not a majority and nowhere near the 20-25%  that the party was getting in the years immediately after World War II, but it was expected by many Republicans that the party would have an opportunity to return to something approaching historical norms with President Obama no longer on the ballot. That was before Donald Trump, of course

While Enten is correct that Trump isn’t particularly known for advocating things that directly impact the African-American community, there are a number of reasons why he is likely to be viewed negatively by black voters. First on the list, as Enten himself notes, is Trump’s role in spreading the birther myth four years ago. From the start, it was clear that that movement was motivated in no small part by the President’s race and many African-Americans and others considered it, with merit, an effort to delegitimize the first black President. Additionally, Trump’s constant drumbeat of attacks on Muslims, Latinos,  immigrants, and other minority groups is likely viewed negatively by a community already sensitive to the code words of racism and bigotry. Finally, regardless of what Trump himself may personally believe it has been widely noted that his campaign has attracted significant support from so-called “alt-right” and openly racist groups, including repeated positive comments from people such as former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, support which Trump was not very quick to repudiate. With all of this to consider, it’s no surprise that African-American voters are running away from Trump as fast as possible.


FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Public Opinion Polls, Race and Politics, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. PJ says:

    It’s a feature, not a bug.

  2. Andrew says:

    With regards to what I said the other article thread this :

    With all of this to consider, it’s no surprise that African-American voters are running away from Trump as fast as possible.

    Is a feature, not a bug, when talking about the modern day conservative who supports Trump.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Hey GOP, how’s that ‘minority outreach’ going for you?

  4. gVOR08 says:

    Don’t worry, Barry, there are three months to the election. He has time to take the record.

  5. Hal_10000 says:

    While Enten is correct that Trump isn’t particularly known for advocating things that directly impact the African-American community

    Trump has been a vocal and unquestioning advocate of the police state. He has said that police are the most oppressed people in this country at precisely the time we are finding out about extensive racial discrimination (see this week’s DOJ report on the Baltimore police). He’s undoing the good, if somewhat clumsy work, that Rand Paul and others have been doing to reach out to the black community over criminal justice reform and stop putting hundreds of thousands of black people in jail forever. I don’t think Trump’s views on this subject have gone unnoticed.

    Every year it’s the same. I suggest that Republicans try to make inroads to black voters. They say, “Well, they won’t vote for us anyway”. But if they’d spent the last twenty years, you know, trying, maybe that would be different.

  6. Barry says:

    Enten: “For a Republican Party that wanted to reach out to minority voters after the 2012 election, that’s not good.”

    No, the Republican Party wanted to f*ck over minorities. I would say that the base did, but the elites had no problem with voter suppression.

    In the end the GOP from top to bottom loves to f*ck over minorities.

  7. JohnMcC says:

    @Hal_10000: I have been waiting for the Democrats to make a TV ad featuring the ‘Central Park Five’ and Mr Trump’s unhinged behavior trying to get NY to execute them…. And then pointing out that they were innocent.

    Alas, I guess I won’t see it. Too much of a target-rich-environment I guess.

  8. dmhlt says:

    I think we should all be thankful that non-white voters are going to be saving our country’s ass this year!

  9. al-Alameda says:

    The Republican Party ‘outreach efforts’ to bring more Black voters into the GOP fold has consisted of snappy observations like: ‘Blacks are on the Democratic Party plantation’. The very clear implication is that over 90% of Blacks now vote Democratic because they just don’t know any better.

    Another one of my favorite marketing and outreach efforts is where Republicans suggest that many Blacks voted for Obama twice only because of race – the clear implication is that if Blacks weren’t racist, many would have voted for the Republican nominee – John McCain or Mitt Romney.

    As Bootsy Collins says, “uh, groove on.”

  10. Pete S says:

    @dmhlt: Well, women too. Most of Trump’s support now seems to be coming from white men. Why does he believe that white men are the only group stupid enough not to see that he is running a con, in numbers large enough to get him close to being elected? Apparently he is not wrong. I am pretty embarrassed by this.

    @Barry: In all honesty, they are doing the same to poor whites. They just have managed to trick the poor whites into going along with it.

  11. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Trump had a small window to stitch together some of the themes of Sanders and Rand Paul that were appealing to us—instead he doubled down on stupid. Those 2 Mamys (yes I said it) that he puts out in front of him to show he has “The black” vote are the collective finger almost everyone in our community. Trump leaves absolutely no room for any black or brown person to consider voting for him. IMO, its by design. I’ve said before that I believe his goal is to destroy the republican party. I wish him the best of luck. Issues unique to the black community will never become a priority as long as the only home black people have is the democratic party. The sooner the Republican party can be blown up and reformulated the better.