With fewer than fifty days until the general election, many political commentators have been speculating as to when Trump’s so-called “pivot to the general” will finally come to fruition. Despite being known for typically isolating minorities with his inflammatory rhetoric, the Trump campaign seems to be taking a turn towards minority outreach, specifically amongst the African-American community. According to the Pew Research Center, in this year’s election, “nearly one-in-three eligible voters on Election Day (31%) will be Hispanic, black, Asian or another racial or ethnic minority, up from 29% in 2012.” So how exactly is the Donald faring among a population whose votes could be instrumental in the election of our next president – and has the much-anticipated “pivot” finally taken place?
Trump’s approach to assuaging the allegations of racism has not been subtle, to say the least. The most substantial reason that Trump has offered thus far for African-Americans to support his candidacy can be summed up by a comment he made in early August at a Michigan rally: “You’re living in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed, what the hell do you have to lose?” He continually paints a dismal picture of the African-American experience to justify this kind of sentiment, which many have found tone-deaf and downright offensive. For instance, Bettina Inclán, the 2012 director of Hispanic outreach for the Republican National Committee, said on the subject of Trumps minority outreach, “He talks about us, and he doesn’t talk to us.” Whether its referring to the community as “the blacks” or making this pitch to a primarily white audience, many have concluded that these efforts are largely fruitless. However, Trump guarantees that he “will get over 95% of the African-American vote,” disregarding countless polls that indicate that African-Americans as a group typically lean to the left.
To be fair, some of these efforts have been met with praise. Trump’s visit to a Detroit church where he delivered a speech on how our country is “too divided” was called “scripted” yet “honest and transparent” by Hillary Clinton supporter and senior pastor at Detroit’s Holy Ghost Cathedral Carletta Vaughn. He has even garnered the endorsement of groups such as the National Black Republican Association, whose co-founder and chairman, Frances Rice, said that Trump “shares [their] values” and “has demonstrated that he can push back against the mainstream media, end political correctness and free black communities from the destructive grip of socialist Democrats.”
Nevertheless, the general consensus among analysts and voters alike is that Trump is not the favorite of the African-American community. While Clinton has also been accused of pandering to black voters (and even admitted to it after making her now-famous “hot sauce” comment during an interview with The Breakfast Club, saying, “Is it workin’?”), Trump’s divisive policies and history of racial bias do not bode well for voters of color in a broad sense. And as for the pivot – don’t hold your breath. It doesn’t seem to be happening in earnest any time soon.