Trump Courts Black Voters Even as He Traffics in Stereotypes

He has repeatedly accused three Black prosecutors investigating him of “reverse racism.” He told a gathering of Black Republicans that Black people like him because he, too, has been charged by the criminal justice system. And he has suggested that Black people relate to his mug shot.

There’s a fundamental tension in Donald J. Trump’s attempts to woo Black voters. He repeatedly traffics in stereotypes about Black Americans, yet he is counting on them, and aggressively courting them, to help him win back the White House in November.

His campaign is relying on achieving modest gains with Black voters — or peeling some away from President Biden and toward a third-party or independent candidate such as Cornel West or Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — and it is part of his math for 2024. Public polling shows him faring better with Black voters than any Republican presidential candidate has in decades.

Mr. Trump currently receives nearly four times the support from Black voters in polling than the 6 percent who actually voted for him in 2016, according to Pew Research Center data. He is vying for wins in states with major cities that have large Black populations, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia. The margins of victory are expected to be small in those four states, where Mr. Trump hopes to offset his potential weaknesses with independent voters and suburban women.

Still, to the concern of Democrats, Mr. Trump’s economic and cultural pitch to Black voters, whom he has often called “the Blacks,” has shown some early resonance.

“The polling is coming out and they say ‘Wait a minute, there must be a mistake here. Black people really like Trump. There must be a mistake,’” Mr. Trump said at a Black Conservative Federation event last month, a preview of his message that the country — and Black voters’ pocketbooks — had been better off when he was president.

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