“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.
Let’s quickly examine his claim that he ended up “getting substantially more” from black voters than other GOP presidential candidates.
Here’s what the exit polls show for the percentage share of black votes in the presidential elections since 1972.
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.
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