Democracy Dies in Darkness

Fact Checker

Trump's claim that he did 'substantially' better with blacks than other GOP presidential candidates

By Glenn Kessler

February 1, 2017 at 12:04 PM

(White House)

"If you remember, I wasn't going to do well with the African American community, and after they heard me speaking and talking about the inner city and lots of other things, we ended up getting — I won't go into details — but we ended up getting substantially more than other candidates who had run in the past years. And now we're going to take that to new levels."
— President Trump, remarks on Black History Month, Feb. 1

President Trump ranted about "fake news" during an appearance to mark Black History Month. But he needs to be careful about spreading fake news of his own.

Related: [Trump rants about ‘fake news’ as he marks African American History Month]

Let's quickly examine his claim that he ended up "getting substantially more" from black voters than other GOP presidential candidates.

The Facts

Here's what the exit polls show for the percentage share of black votes in the presidential elections since 1972.

Democrat Republican
2016                  89             8
2012                  93             6
2008                 95             4
2004                 88            11
2000                 90             9
1996                  84            12
1992                  83            10
1988                  86            12
1984                  90             9
1980                  85            11
1976                  83            16
1972                  82            18

Trump appears to have focused on the fact that he got 8 percent of the vote vs. 6 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012 and 4 percent for John McCain in 2008. In the polling world, a two- or even four-percentage-point shift is relatively small. It certainly does not qualify as "substantially more."

Moreover, who was running as a Democrat in 2008 and 2012? Oh, yes, the first African American candidate, Barack Obama. Trump was not running against a black man, so that further discounts his claims of a substantial achievement.

Strictly by the numbers, Trump actually did worse than any Republican running against a white man, though in effect he came close to tying George W. Bush in 2000 and Ronald Reagan in 1984.

The Pinocchio Test

Trump is kidding himself if he thinks he did substantially better with African American voters. Perhaps he should be pleased he did not do worse, given some of his incendiary rhetoric. But it's not anything to brag about.

Three Pinocchios

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Glenn Kessler has reported on domestic and foreign policy for more than three decades. He would like your help in keeping an eye on public figures. Send him statements to fact check by emailing him, tweeting at him, or sending him a message on Facebook.

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