Three Major Findings on Black Voters No One is Talking About

Earlier this year as Market Research Foundation watched Trump’s approval among Blacks climb significantly beyond the share of the vote he received in 2016, we decided it was time to do a thorough analysis of the African American vote. Between July 1st and July 7th, we conducted a nationwide online survey of 1000 African American voters. We asked them about their voting history, views on Trump, employment and education, and in-depth questions about their views on political identity and motivations when choosing to vote. Here are three key takeaways.

1. Black Voters Don’t Feel Beholden to Democrats 

Although the average African American voter does indeed vote Democrat, the majority are not particularly loyal to party, but instead to specific policies. Ninety-one percent of respondents in our survey said they liked to make up their own minds when voting rather than simply following friends and family, and 50% strongly or very strongly agreed that Blacks don’t have to be Democrats. Sixty-two percent strongly agreed no political party should assume they have Black support. Fifteen percent of respondents self-identified as Independents.

2. Black Voters are Conservative on Immigration

Black respondents prioritized immigration significantly less than both Democrats and Republicans, and their views are much closer to those of Republicans than Democrats. Only 4% of respondents in our survey said immigration was their number one issue, while a July Gallup poll showed 22% of voters overall prioritized immigration over other issues.

What’s more, 51% of Black voters in our survey said they support stricter immigration enforcement. These voters didn’t necessarily hold a favorable view of Trump or consider themselves conservative on other issues. Seventy-seven percent of those who favored stricter immigration voted for Clinton in 2016, while 16% voted for Trump, and 3% voted for Gary Johnson. As shown in the chart below, 70% of Black voters who favored stricter immigration identified as Democrat or Democrat-leaning.

Party breakdown of those favorable on stricter immigration The takeaway? A whopping 77% of Black Hillary supporters and 70% of Black Democrats favor stricter immigration. Immigration is an issue where the majority of Blacks diverge from the Democrat Party as a whole, and represents a unique opportunity for Trump and midterm candidates.

3. More Blacks with a Postgrad Degree Voted for Trump than Clinton

Remember the first few weeks after Trump won the election back in 2016, how many graphs and charts were plastered on the front pages of most major newspapers, proclaiming the less education a white voter had, the more likely they were to have voted for Trump? The message was clear: uneducated white people elected the President. While that is to a degree accurate, our survey of Black voters found an equally compelling reversal to that trend that no one seems to be talking about. We asked Black voters their education level, and then compared that to their 2016 vote, and here’s what we found:

  • 17% of Black Trump voters had a Postgraduate Degree, versus 12% of Black Clinton voters
  • Combining the shares of Black Trump voters with a Bachelor’s Degree and a Postgraduate Degree, 49% had completed a higher education degree
  • Only 10% of Black Trump voters had no education beyond high school
  • Only 5% of Black Trump voters had less than an 11th grade education

Education level black Trump voters

This level of educational attainment among Black Trump voters stands in remarkable contrast to the Black population overall. According to the census Bureau’s educational attainment publication, only 22% of Blacks over age 25 had a Bachelor’s Degree and just 8% had an advanced degree in 2015. Yet 49% of Black Trump voters had a college degree and 17% had an advanced degree.

This is a fascinating reversal of the ‘White, No College’ pattern, and could identify a key niche of likely Trump supporters: the highest educated Blacks.