Why Trump's Minority Outreach May Really Be About White Voters

Aug 27, 2016
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now, we just heard from former GOP presidential candidate and now Trump supporter Dr. Ben Carson giving his take on Donald Trump's minority outreach effort. Now here's some additional perspective from NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro who wrote earlier this week that some of that outreach might really be about shoring up white voters. He's here to tell us more about that. Welcome back, Domenico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hi, Michel.

MARTIN: Well, first, can we hear more about the numbers? Obviously, Donald Trump has been struggling with minority voters. What do those numbers look like?

MONTANARO: Donald Trump is stuck in single digits with black voters. He is at 20 percent give or take looking at - depending on the poll you look at with Hispanics. I know he mentioned 8 percent with African-Americans. The latest NBC Wall Street Journal poll showed him at 1 percent with African-Americans.

Now, that's a couple of weeks old. Everybody's got whatever poll they want to look at, but those are terrible numbers. But I have to say, they're actually not all that dissimilar to the margins Mitt Romney got in the 2012 presidential election. But that in and of itself is a problem because remember Romney lost in an electoral landslide.

MARTIN: And what is it that you are seeing about Donald Trump's numbers with white voters?

MONTANARO: Romney in 2012 won white women 56 to 42 percent. That's a 14-point margin. Donald Trump is down by one point in the latest NBC Wall Street Journal poll 43-42. That's a huge swing. No Republican can afford a 15-point swing losing white women. So maybe Donald Trump can make up for it somehow with white men - right? - because this is what he's appealing to, this kind of machismo campaign. But when you look at that, Romney won white men 62 to 35, according to the exit polls.

I said to myself when this campaign started, how is Donald Trump really going to crank it up much higher than that? Well, guess what? He's not. He was only up 49 to 36, a 13-point margin. He is well underperforming Mitt Romney.

That is a giant problem for Donald Trump because whites then were 72 percent of the electorate and a big reason for this is whites with college degrees. And that's exactly squarely the group he needs to look at in these suburbs. Democrats have not won that group since 1976 when exit polling began. And white women with college degrees, for example - Hillary Clinton is winning them by 20 points, and Mitt Romney won them in 2012.

MARTIN: So how would reaching out to minority voters help him with suburban white voters, especially white women?

MONTANARO: Well, to be frank and succinct about this, the fact is whites with college degrees don't want to feel like they are voting for somebody who's seen as a bigot or a racist. And that is part of why you saw Hillary Clinton's speech this week trying to tie Donald Trump to the so-called alt-right and try to bill him as somebody who - maybe he's not racist but walks with them.

MARTIN: One more word about this outreach to minority voters. Yesterday, the cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade was killed in Chicago. The reporting indicates that she was just out walking her baby in the stroller and was caught in the crossfire. Donald Trump tweeted and I, quote, "Dwyane Wade's cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying - African-Americans will vote Trump." He later tweeted his condolences. Why does he suggest that an event like that could help him with black voters?

MONTANARO: Well, I mean, it's a very cynical play, and obviously someone dying and being shot is very serious. And the tone with Donald Trump has been consistently a problem, but the play here, though, is that Rahm Emanuel is the mayor of Chicago, and Democrats run the city. And in 140 characters, he's going out and saying, you know - tying that to more violence in Chicago, and that that's why blacks and Hispanics and minority voters should vote for him because something would change. Now, (laughter) this is how we say - what? - too soon (laughter) because I think that's probably what it is.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Domenico Montanaro. Domenico, thank you.

MONTANARO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.