But despite it all, the notion that Trump could get black voters to flip to the GOP continues to circulate.
Over on the conservative Breitbart Web site, one writer stopped just short of saying that black people — with their love of flex and flash and gold and things — are natural Trump fans. And right here in The Washington Post, Bruce Bartlett, a former aide to the late congressman Jack Kemp and President Ronald Reagan, suggested that black voters were particularly primed to hear Trump's immigration message.
Bartlett's op-ed lays out some interesting historical info about black support for the nation's Immigration Act of 1924, a policy that barred African and Asian immigration as well as immigration from so-called Arab countries. The law also sought to reduce the number of Southern and Eastern Europeans entering the country. And, as Bartlett notes, none other than Frederick Douglass publicly expressed concerns about competition for work and jobs between black Americans and Irish immigrants.
There are some polls and economic studies in there, too, detailing current economic conditions. And Bartlett does concede that transforming black voters to Trump supporters will not be "easy. "
That's an understatement. In fact, a new Washington Post- ABC News poll released this week shows African Americans oppose Trump's immigration policies (81 percent) even more than Latinos do (75 percent). Here's the breakdown of opposition:
First, Trump has his own real history of antagonizing, illegally excluding, vilifying and speaking about black Americans in dehumanizing ways. He hasn't limited his comments to just Latinos. And while Trump has a history that is certainly worth noting, those same patterns are also part of his not-at-all-distant past.
Trump spent a good portion of the last few years expressing public doubt about the facts of Obama's birth and funding an alleged fact-finding mission to dig into the president's birth records. Trump and a whole list of others often referred to as "birthers" have repeatedly and falsely claimed that Obama was not born in the United States or is not a U.S. citizen and therefore is not eligible to serve as president.
If Trump and those who fret about black voters doubt just how offensive the birther movement's suggestions really are to black America, they need only consider that more than 90 percent of black voters helped to put Obama, the nation's first black president, in office and return him there in 2012. Black voters actually charted a new and previously unseen course for voter participation in 2012. So public challenges to Obama's citizenship and eligibility are quite likely to be understood as an affront to black political influence and to raise a scary set of questions about black American citizenship and the 14th Amendment, which granted it.
Second, while there is some truth in the data about competition for jobs and other resources between black and Latino voters and immigrants, there's also lots of contradictory evidence. And we know this much for sure: The politics of zero-sum economic and social gains are strategies that have worked most reliably with white voters — not black ones. Perhaps they still do.
And black voters aren't just white ones with more melanin; black voters come at their politics with a long and difficult history of exclusion, segregation, formal and informal mistreatment, injustice and frequent vilification. And even for those who have never experienced these things personally, they almost certainly know some other person of color who has. Add to that the growing share of black voters who are themselves immigrants or the children of immigrants, and it's even starker.
That doesn't mean that there aren't any black people concerned about immigration. But really think carefully on the most vociferous opponents of illegal immigration. They aren't otherwise occupied in the fight for liberty and justice and equal treatment for all races.
This confluence of factors, experiences and events just makes it exceedingly unlikely that this issue is going to sway black voters in Trump's direction.