Recently rapper (and now actor) 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) and actor/rapper Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson) endorsed Donald Trump as having done the most for the black community. 50 Cent was immediately attacked by a white woman, Chelsea Handler, for not being black and forgetting his own skin color. This comes after Kanye West long ago wore a MAGA hat and supported Trump to interviewers. This year, of course, Kanye is making a “run” at the presidency. (To call it half-hearted would leave one wondering what one-eighth-hearted looks like).
Whether or not Kanye was ever serious about this year (unlikely) or 2024 (more likely, until, at least, this fiasco of a campaign), there is no doubt that Donald Trump is doing better with African Americans as a whole. How much better? No one knows. This week, Rasmussen came out with a poll showing Trump with 46% black approval nationally. Certainly, no one—not even the most idealistic of Trump’s supporters—believe he would get anywhere near 46% of the black vote. But he doesn’t have to. At a mere 15% vote for Trump and 5% more staying home, the Democrats would be short over 4 million votes. If the 46% translates into even half that who vote for Trump, he would not only win the popular vote easily but swing such states as Virginia, now thought out of reach.
Handler’s upbraiding (“you ain’t black”) of 50 Cent runs the risk of further alienating blacks from the Democrat Party. Younger blacks, especially males, are already revolting against the party of their fathers and grandfathers. And increasingly, Trump’s politics have been overcoming rhetoric and history. Before the GOP convention, Trump pardoned Jon Ponder, a black man convicted of robbing a bank in Nevada who now runs a nonprofit for prisoners. Last week Trump granted clemency to former boxer Charles “Duke” Tanner, originally sentenced to life for dealing crack cocaine.
Before the Civil War, slaves escaped from the South via the “underground railroad.” They had an extensive network of private communications without ever referring to white newspapers. Don’t think that the same thing isn’t happening here. The word is getting out. Trump has been doing what Democrats only promised. And the media cannot keep it silent or cover it up by starting discussions of pardons or clemency with Roger Stone or Conrad Black. The African American underground railroad of information has trumped the digital information superhighway.
Two years ago, when black approval numbers for Trump began to rise, I outlined what I explained was the “Trump Three Step.” In step one, black voters just would stay home on election day. For Hillary Clinton, that meant the loss of Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Step two was a vote for Trump, which, if I am correct, will see a 30% increase this election. But the first of the Trump Three Step will now be repeated by a new, additional group of #walkaway blacks. It is important to note, though, that a vote for Trump doesn’t mean a simultaneous embrace of the Republican Party—only for Trump. Thus, I expect in Step Three the first group will begin voting GOP overall. If I’m right, one would expect to see black Republicans doing better than in the past.
Lo and behold, in Utah’s fourth congressional district, former NFL player Burgess Owens is poised to win back the seat lost by never-Trumper Mia Love in 2018. In Michigan, John James is now polling ahead of Gary Peters for the Senate race. And in Maryland, while she likely won’t win, Kimberly Klacik is now running far ahead of her special election pace in which she was defeated.
It will take blacks a lot longer to trust the GOP than it will take them to trust Trump. His record is on display. The GOP, on the other hand, has been the land of Jack Kemp “Opportunity Zones” and other fine-sounding programs that did not reach the vast majority of blacks. Moreover, whatever one thought of the Criminal Justice Reform act, it represented a Trump action in an area that blacks had expressed concern over for decades. Put another way, Trump did something the GOP had not done in decades: actually do something blacks favored. And his high-profile courtship of Kanye and Kim Kardashian, Leo Terrell, and now 50 Cent and Ice Cube has steadily bought him more credibility.
Meanwhile, how is the first step of the Trump Three Step going this election? Recent numbers from North Carolina, where Barack Obama won with a level of black support at 23% of the electorate in 2012 only to win by 1 point, suggest 3% of the black voters who supported him have walked away. (Remember, at this point in the election, we still do not know who blacks are voting for—but we can tell if they are not voting). A 3% shortfall in black votes from 2016 in North Carolina would guarantee a Trump victory (and probably drag along incumbent senator Thom Tillis). Moreover, if repeated in other states, such as Michigan, where early evidence is that we are similarly seeing a stay-at-home effect, the Trump Three Step will not only land Michigan in the GOP column but flip a senate seat.
In the longer term—especially if anything close to the 46% approval number holds up—this officially marks the end of the Democrat Party. It simply cannot function with less than 85% support from blacks and 70% support from Hispanics—another story.
Larry Schweikart is the co-author with Michael Allen of the New York Times #1 bestseller, A Patriot’s History of the United States, author of Reagan: The American President, and founder of the Wild World of History, a history curriculum website with full classes on US and World History including teacher guides, student workbooks, tests/answer keys, maps/images/graphs, and video lessons for each unit (www.wildworldofhistory.com).