No amount of fact-checking can dissuade President Trump from saying untrue things that he wants to say. We can point out over and over that his claims are false or inaccurate or misleading, but if he likes the claim, he’ll make the claim. Once that feather is stuck in his cap, he’ll point out the feather to anyone who will notice, even after it’s noted that the feather is a carpenter bee.
So it is with a recent addition to Trump’s repertoire, his decision that Kanye West’s burst of enthusiasm for him resulted in a significant and lasting boost in his approval ratings among black men. Picking up on an article in the Daily Caller, Trump touted this huge increase during a speech in Texas early last month.
“Kanye West must have some power, because you probably saw I doubled my African American poll numbers,” Trump said during his speech at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention. “We went from 11 to 22 in one week. Thank you, Kanye. Thank you. When I saw the number, I said: ‘That must be a mistake. How can that have happened?’ Even the pollsters thought that must be a mistake.”
That’s not really what the pollsters said. Instead, the pollsters noted that the jump — which was only among black men — was recorded in only one poll, conducted by Ipsos for Reuters. They noted that Reuters itself had pointed to the wide confidence interval surrounding those numbers, an uncertainty that meant Trump’s support among black men might have declined.
Some noted — well, I noted — that Trump had made a similar claim in January based on another iffy assessment from a conservative media outlet. Then, Trump had theoretically jumped from 8 percent to 17 percent support among black Americans. That increase was even sketchier and seems hard to reconcile with the purported increase Trump saw post-Kanye. But it looked like good news, so Trump seized on it. Good enough until the Kanye West tidbit came along to replace it.
When Kim Kardashian West visited the White House last week, Trump pointed to his latest feather.
“Trump told the reality TV star and wife of hip-hop mogul Kanye West in the Oval Office that the couple was boosting his popularity with African Americans,” Bloomberg News reported, citing “two people familiar with the matter.”
There was little reason to assume by then that West’s tweets had improved Trump’s popularity over even the short term. But polling from Gallup released at the beginning of June makes clear that Trump saw no significant gain among black Americans.
Over the course of April, Trump’s approval rating among black Americans was 13 percent. In May, it dropped by one point, to 12 percent — an insignificant difference. Since December, Trump’s approval among black Americans has increased, as it has among most demographic groups. From April to May, though, the shifts were subtle.
(There was a very slight overlap between West’s tweets and the end of the April polling period, but only a few days.)
CNN and its polling partner SRSS asked people their views of West shortly after his online interactions with Trump. About a quarter of white people said they viewed him positively, while 15 percent of black people agreed. Among those who approved of the job Trump was doing as president, 40 percent viewed him favorably. Fewer than 1 in 10 of those who disapprove of Trump agreed.
This is not a feather in Trump’s cap.
Scott Clement contributed to this report.