In 2009, with a fresh-faced Obama at the helm, healthcare coverage as the primary focus, and a moderate immigration policy, Democrats were relatively pragmatic and wildly popular. They were hard at work covering people with preexisting conditions instead of wasting years on legislation allowing men in between sex changes to use the restrooms with women and children. They were not only capable of increasing border security, the Obama administration was unapologetic about expelling illegal immigrants at record levels. The message from Obama and the Democrat Party to the average voter was “we’re here to help”, and it resonated resoundingly with black voters.
But that message is a far cry from the message today. Today the message is aimed only at those who fully embrace extreme victim status. “You’re racist”, “You can’t ask people on the U.S. Census whether they’re citizens”, “Yes, there are over 47 genders and if you don’t know the proper pronouns associated with each, you’re a bigot”, “You can’t ask that”, “You’re not allowed to question this”, “Sit down and vote as you’re told or you’re out.” When the message of the party is no longer about what it can do for voters, and instead a bizarre marriage of self-congratulatory virtue-signaling and moral McCarthyism, it begins to lose its appeal to people who just wanted better healthcare, better schools, and a job.
Market Research Foundation’s research indicates conservatives have the opportunity to use the Democrat Party’s lack of foresight, lack of pragmatism, abandonment of a coherent message, and constant focus on virtue-signaling instead of legislating, to win portions of the black vote.
In July, 2018, we commissioned a nationwide study of 1,000 black Americans using sampling quotas and weighting to match Census figures for age, gender and region, to create a representative blueprint for the nation. We explored political attitudes, views on a range of issues, 2016 vote, party identification, and asked demographic questions to form correlations between characteristics like education level and employment industry and partisanship. Here’s what we know:
Black Voters are Not as Loyal to Democrats as You Think
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. Sixty-two percent strongly agreed no political party should assume they have black voter support, and fifteen percent of respondents self-identified as Independents. Nearly nine-in-ten black voters think “African Americans don’t have to be Democrats” and a similar figure (87%) said no party should assume they have the support of the black community.
- Although 83% of black voters cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton in 2016, just 58% affiliate with the Democratic Party and only a slightly higher number approve of the Party (63%).
- That said, Democrats are significantly more popular among black voters than Republicans: just 5% self-identify with the GOP and 10% approve if it. One-half (50%) believe most Republicans are racist.
- Over half of black voters (53%) believe the Democratic Party has left the black community behind while counting on their support and this figure is significantly higher for older Millennials (ages 25-34; 61%).
- Our survey showed 10% of black voters voted for Donald Trump (within the margin of error with CNN’s 2016 Exit Polls showing 8%). In spite of all of the negative press the President has received in the first half of his term, 65% of these voters stand behind their vote for Trump.
- When talking about ideology instead of parties, twice as many black voters are willing to self-identify as conservatives on a variety of issues; moral such as gay marriage and abortion (26%), education (21%), economic (20%) and healthcare (19%). Indeed, two-thirds (64%) believe some conservative policies promoting individual freedom would benefit the black community. However, the majority will not listen to those policies if they are being promoted by Republicans as 76% believe the Party talks down to them. School choice is a key policy example in this category (90% support).
- Black voters hold some values often thought of as conservative. Four-in-five (80%) believe that small business is the key to American success and the same number do not trust the government to spend tax dollars. There is near universal agreement (93%) on reducing individual tax rates. However, the group also holds traditionally liberal economic viewpoints such as increasing the minimum wage (95%), providing free public university tuition (91%) and forcibly taking away power from large corporations (71%).
- Black voters are most likely to consider education and healthcare (28%) as the most important issues when deciding how to vote. Cultural and race issues were the top factors in determining votes for just 16% of black voters. This figure did not differ significantly based on political affiliation or ideology.
Higher-Educated Black Voters Prefer Trump
Black voters with higher levels of education in our survey were more likely to have voted for Trump, not less. Seventeen percent of black Trump voters had a Postgraduate Degree, versus 12% of black Clinton voters. According to the census Bureau’s educational attainment publication, only 22% of black voters over age 25 had a Bachelor’s Degree and just 8% had an advanced degree in 2015.
- Seventeen percent of black Trump voters had a Postgraduate Degree, versus 12% of black Clinton voters.
- 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.
The more education a black voter had, the more likely they were to support Trump, as shown in the chart below.
Overall, half of black Trump voters had at least a Bachelor’s degree.
Black Voters Want Stricter Immigration and Border Security
While respondents in our survey ranked immigration lower on their list of priorities than issues like healthcare and education, and prioritized it less than white and Hispanic voters, their views are much closer to those of Republicans than Democrats. Fifty-one percent of black voters support stricter immigration enforcement. These voters didn’t necessarily 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.
Seventy percent of black voters who favored stricter immigration identified as Democrat or Democrat-leaning, as shown below.
Seventy-seven percent of black Hillary supporters and 70% of black Democrats favored stricter immigration.
Trump-Friendly Black Border Hawks are Millennial and Male
A significant portion of respondents were hawkish on the border as well as favorable on the President. When compared to the full survey, this group was largely male, age 18-44, politically Independent, twice as likely to consider themselves Very Conservative on moral issues, more likely to own a business, and more likely to attend church regularly.
We found millennial and Generation Z black males between ages 18 and 45 who attended church at least once per month were significantly more likely than the average black voter to have supported Trump, as shown below.
Black Voters Prioritize Healthcare and Education
When asked which criteria they use when deciding to support a candidate or campaign, the candidate or campaign’s stance on issues like healthcare and education overshadowed all other issues. Healthcare was also one of the top issues for Americans overall in 2018 exit polling. This represents an opportunity for President Trump to offer a healthcare alternative that encourages fence-sitters to leave the Democrat Party.
As shown in the chart below, stances on economic issues and stances on race and cultural issues were also important to black voters. These two areas represent opportunities for Trump to focus on communicating the value of his economic policies to the black community.
Black Voters are Moderates on Most Issues and Hold Several Conservative Views
For a voting bloc that has historically preferred Democrats, black voters have overwhelmingly moderate stances on the majority of public policy issues and are open to many conservative positions.
The largest share of black voters considers themselves moderate on economic issues, education, healthcare, and social issues, as shown in the charts below.
Black Men are Lukewarm on Token Democrat Ballot Picks
President Trump won 8% of black voters and 13% of black men in 2016 according to exit polls, and with black unemployment hitting record-breaking lows this year, a soaring economy, and lower taxes for most Americans, it is far from surprising that the GOP is looking like a real option to black voters.
In the wake of the midterm elections, we’re already seeing the difficulty the Democratic Party is facing securing the black male vote in states that will play a major role in 2020. According to statistical analysis by YouGov and The Economist, the gender gap for party affiliation is wider among black voters when compared to white and Hispanic voters. What is more, the three most defining characteristics that shift a prospective black Democrat into the Republican camp are Protestantism, youth, and being male. Here are several key races where black men broke for Republicans in notable numbers.
- In the tight Nevada Senate race, 20% of black men came out for Dean Heller (R) over liberal Democrat Jacky Rosen. This was an impressive increase in support for the GOP candidate compared to 2016, when Republican Joe Heck secured just 12% of the black male vote against Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto. Cortez Masto did far from spectacular among black men herself, earning a mere 63% of their vote, with a full 25% refusing to support either candidate. One key factor that could have boosted Heller’s appeal to black men this election? Trump. The President flew down to stump for Heller in the state where he won a full 26% of black men in 2016. Heck himself was notoriously critical of Trump, and even said Trump should step down from the Republican nomination. What is clear is that black males are open to Republican leadership, especially if that leadership earns Trump’s nod of approval.
- In the Texas gubernatorial race, a full 24% of black men broke from Democrats and supported Republican Greg Abbott in what appears to be a resounding victory over Lupe Valdez, who would have been the first Latina woman and first openly gay governor of the state. While those attributes made her extremely popular to certain demographics within the party, this race displayed one of the largest margins by which black male voters rejected the Democrat candidate on the ballot. In the Texas Senate race, 17% of black men turned out to help Republican Ted Cruz fend off his challenger Beto O’Rourke.
- In the Pennsylvania Senate race, 13% of black men broke in favor of Republican Lou Barletta, while in the Pennsylvania Governor race, 14% of black men supported the Republican businessman Scott Wagner.
- In the Indiana Senate race, black men broke for Republican Mike Braun at an impressive 18%, and helped secure what appears to be a resounding victory over Democrat Joe Donnelly.
Market Research Foundation was one of the first organizations to recognize the growing unrest among ‘white, no college’ Americans that drove them to vote for the President in 2016. Trump won their votes because he spoke to their needs and offered solutions to illegal immigration, lack of jobs, and international policies that hurt the American worker. Our research demonstrates black voters, specifically younger male college graduates, want real-world solutions to issues like border security, have little interest in token Democrat ballot picks, and want to put America first.