Black voters’ increased support for President Donald J. Trump, as gauged by several polls taken by and for outlets across the ideological spectrum, is real. It’s very real.
The percentage of voters who approve of the way Mr. Trump is handling his job as President is at the highest level measured by the PPD Poll since March 2017. However, the unheard of 27% of black voters who at least “somewhat approve” of the way Mr. Trump is handling his job as President, is a new record.
That’s the highest level of support for Mr. Trump among black voters ever measured by the PPD Poll, otherwise known as the PPD Big Data Poll. And it’s not a fluke. The mixed-mode survey of 1,067 likely voters nationwide was conducted from May 11 -12 & 14, 2018.
That’s not meant to be an AAPOR standard of disclosure, it’s meant to be understood as a bombshell. Let me explain what I mean.
We skipped Mother’s Day, for obvious reasons. But our initial intention was not even to poll beyond it. We only polled again on May 14 to make sure it wasn’t statistical noise. We were skeptical and double-checked to make sure that we weren’t being led astray by a news cycle.
We were not.
The level of support gauged over the separated 3-day period was remarkably consistent. The modes of data collection — Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Online Survey Panel (OSP) — were almost identical. That is not something we can often claim.
Let me repeat: The Trump bump among black voters is real. It’s very real.
Is it the “Kanye effect”?
I don’t know. I suspect it doesn’t hurt to have a counterculture push back on the lockstep thinking of leftwing elites. I suspect it doesn’t hurt to have a gangsta rap celebrity do the pushing.
But ultimately, I think it’s likely a combination of President Trump’s already remarkable attitudinal appeal, which proved in the primary and general election to not be confined to party or ideology, and another perhaps more obvious reason buried not-so deep within the data.
Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard-Harris Poll and a former pollster for Bill Clinton during 6 years of his presidency, explained it well. In an article entitled Why the polls are still wrong in The Hill, Mr. Penn explained why it was Barack Obama’s headline approval ratings were misleading.
It also explains why Mr. Trump’s overall approval ratings are misleading, as well, albeit for entirely different reasons.
Remember, Americans liked President Obama for his way with words and his calm leadership style. They just opposed many of his policies, so Obama’s numbers gave a false sense of approval. Trump is the mirror opposite. People are put on edge by his words while favoring a lot of the positions he is taking on issues.
Mr. Penn couldn’t be more right. He was also spot on when he wrote that “we get a more complex picture of his image” when “we break down his approval ratings by specific areas.”
Voters hold impressively positive views of President Trump’s stewardship on key issues, though those views are masked by his overall approval ratings. They remain slightly underwater in the PPD/Big Data Poll at 48% approve and 52% disapprove.
That spread is not-so slight depending on which Big Media survey — either collecting a useless adult or unrealistic registered voter sample — you throw back at me. Without granting their respondents anonymity, most of these “pollsters” will never accurately gauge President Trump’s base, let alone catch on to this movement.
Let’s compare that headline approval rating to his standing among voters on the issues.
Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling the U.S. economy?
Fifty-eight percent (58%) approve, while 42% disapprove.
Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling employment and jobs?
Fifty-five percent (55%) approve, while 44% disapprove.
Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling U.S. trade policy?
Fifty-two percent (52%) approve, while 48% disapprove.
Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling ISIS and terrorism?
Fifty-four percent (54%) approve, while 45% disapprove.
I suspect the mystery is not that mysterious, at all. Black voters make rational policy choices just as other voters do. I’ve always been a big believer in my own modified version of rational choice theory. There is no genetic, built-in DNA-like hardware that hardwires someone to vote one way or the other.
Americans vote, whether right or wrong, for whom they believe will better their lives. Until Donald Trump, Republicans were just unsurprisingly losing a game they weren’t even playing.
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The mixed-mode survey of 1,067 likely voters nationwide was conducted from May 11 -12 & 14, 2018 by Big Data Poll for People’s Pundit Daily. The margin of sampling error = +/- 3% with a 95% Confidence Level.