Could Donald Trump win the 2016 election by expanding the GOP’s reach into Hispanic and African-American communities? Cook Political Report editor David Wasserman pointed out yesterday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that polling suggests that minority voters might be giving the president a second look, and that could spell trouble for Joe Biden. The Democratic nominee hasn’t kept pace thus far with Hillary Clinton’s polling in 2016 among non-white voters, Wasserman points out, and that gives Trump an edge.
On the other hand, Wasserman points out, Biden’s doing better than Hillary among non-minority voters — and that might mean bigger trouble for Trump:
“The silver lining for Donald Trump, here, is that he’s doing better with nonwhites than he was doing in 2016,” Wasserman said during a panel on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “He’s winning on average 9 percent of the Black vote in these polls compared to 5 percent in his pre-election polls in 2016. And the Hispanic vote, Joe Biden is ahead 56 percent to 31 percent. The final polls in 2016, Hillary Clinton was up 61 percent to 23 percent. So, that’s a pretty decent number for Trump among Hispanics that I think is attributable to traditional Republican, Hispanic voters, including, potentially, Cubans, coming back to the Republican fold.”
However, Wasserman said, Trump has not been performing as well among white voters as he did during his first campaign, particularly those who are older.
“At least in Florida, what seems to be offsetting that, for now, is Joe Biden’s strong performance among white seniors which also helps him in Arizona,” he said. He added that Biden’s performance among white voters who were college educated meant Omaha, Nebraska represented his “best shot at flipping any piece of Trump real estate on the map.”
Wasserman said his numbers came from averaging “eight major live-interview polls … in mid-to-late August versus the same polls in June or July.”
Politico also sent up a similar warning this morning about Biden’s performance among Florida’s Hispanic voters. He had a double-digit lead in the Sunshine State in that demo, but not by a wide enough margin to carry the state, Marc Caputo reports from data provided by a Democratic pollster:
Biden leads Trump among Hispanics by 53-37 percent in the poll conducted for Equis Research, a Democratic Latino research firm. While his advantage seems large, Biden’s 16-percentage point margin spells potential trouble for him because it’s 11 points lower than what Hillary Clinton received in 2016 exit polls, when she lost the state to Trump.
At the same time, Trump is running slightly ahead of his statewide Hispanic performance in 2016 by about 2 points thanks to increased backing from conservative Cuban-American voters and additional support from a broader coalition of Latino voters, specifically men, whom the president’s campaign has courted.
The poll results jibe with months of criticisms leveled at Biden for doing too little to juice up Hispanic support in Florida, as well as in other battleground states. The campaign this week responded by stepping up its Spanish-language outreach, spending more on TV and hiring more staff to change the trajectory — in two previous polls by the firm, Biden led Trump among Hispanics by 18 points in July and 17 points in December.
Assuming these numbers accurately reflect the state of the race, Biden would have to win all of the undecided voters in this poll to get to Hillary’s numbers. That seems a bit unlikely, although voting demos do tend to return home in the end. Biden may still be paying for his flirtation with Karen Bass as a running mate, whose praise and work for Fidel Castro threatened to turn off massive numbers of Cuban-Americans in Florida.
In the end, though, many of them probably will drift back to Biden as voters come back to their norm. That drift back to the norm applies to the gains made by Biden among older white voters too, though. The longer that riots and demonstrations continue, that’s going to become an even bigger issue for Biden. Democrats have attempted to shift the blame for the riots to Trump for being “divisive,” but that’s a tough sale considering that the riots are over urban policing. Democrats and progressives run every one of the cities under siege — and most of the states in which those take place, too. How many Republican governors are in Oregon, Illinois, Washington, Minnesota, and Wisconsin? None.
This is why the polls have been “tightening,” as Joe Scarborough put it yesterday morning with Wasserman. Biden had been poised to make inroads with Trump’s core base, but his silence on the riots and looting and his apparently all-in with the progressive radicals pushing them have likely accelerated that return to the norm for older white voters. That’s why Biden finally went to Kenosha and scolded rioters, even while trying to dance around identification of them as progressive radicals.
And one last point still bears emphasizing. Team Biden might be getting support in polls, but it’s turnout that matters. They’re still betting on national messaging, TV ads, and little else to drive voters to the polls, while Team Trump and the RNC are focusing on retail politics and doorknocking. In the battleground states, that may be all the edge that Trump needs.
One thing is for sure, though — the Trump campaign is actively challenging the Democratic grip on minority demos. Their approach may or may not be the more effective method, but they are as energetic as any Republican presidential campaign has ever been.
“They think because I’m Black, that I have to vote Democrat.”
In 2016, Trump won 8% of Black voters and 28% of Hispanic voters. This year, the Trump campaign is betting that he can gain even more traction pic.twitter.com/yg43xjFYOn
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) September 3, 2020