Why Trump's Minority Outreach May Really Be About White Voters Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has publicly tried to reach out to minority voters. But that outreach may really be aimed at improving his standing with suburban white voters.
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Why Trump's Minority Outreach May Really Be About White Voters

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Why Trump's Minority Outreach May Really Be About White Voters

Why Trump's Minority Outreach May Really Be About White Voters

Why Trump's Minority Outreach May Really Be About White Voters

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/491647585/491647586" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has publicly tried to reach out to minority voters. But that outreach may really be aimed at improving his standing with suburban white voters.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now, we just heard from former GOP presidential candidate and now Trump supporter Dr. Ben Carson giving his take on Donald Trump's minority outreach effort. Now here's some additional perspective from NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro who wrote earlier this week that some of that outreach might really be about shoring up white voters. He's here to tell us more about that. Welcome back, Domenico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hi, Michel.

MARTIN: Well, first, can we hear more about the numbers? Obviously, Donald Trump has been struggling with minority voters. What do those numbers look like?

MONTANARO: Donald Trump is stuck in single digits with black voters. He is at 20 percent give or take looking at - depending on the poll you look at with Hispanics. I know he mentioned 8 percent with African-Americans. The latest NBC Wall Street Journal poll showed him at 1 percent with African-Americans.

Now, that's a couple of weeks old. Everybody's got whatever poll they want to look at, but those are terrible numbers. But I have to say, they're actually not all that dissimilar to the margins Mitt Romney got in the 2012 presidential election. But that in and of itself is a problem because remember Romney lost in an electoral landslide.

MARTIN: And what is it that you are seeing about Donald Trump's numbers with white voters?

MONTANARO: Romney in 2012 won white women 56 to 42 percent. That's a 14-point margin. Donald Trump is down by one point in the latest NBC Wall Street Journal poll 43-42. That's a huge swing. No Republican can afford a 15-point swing losing white women. So maybe Donald Trump can make up for it somehow with white men - right? - because this is what he's appealing to, this kind of machismo campaign. But when you look at that, Romney won white men 62 to 35, according to the exit polls.

I said to myself when this campaign started, how is Donald Trump really going to crank it up much higher than that? Well, guess what? He's not. He was only up 49 to 36, a 13-point margin. He is well underperforming Mitt Romney.

That is a giant problem for Donald Trump because whites then were 72 percent of the electorate and a big reason for this is whites with college degrees. And that's exactly squarely the group he needs to look at in these suburbs. Democrats have not won that group since 1976 when exit polling began. And white women with college degrees, for example - Hillary Clinton is winning them by 20 points, and Mitt Romney won them in 2012.

MARTIN: So how would reaching out to minority voters help him with suburban white voters, especially white women?

MONTANARO: Well, to be frank and succinct about this, the fact is whites with college degrees don't want to feel like they are voting for somebody who's seen as a bigot or a racist. And that is part of why you saw Hillary Clinton's speech this week trying to tie Donald Trump to the so-called alt-right and try to bill him as somebody who - maybe he's not racist but walks with them.

MARTIN: One more word about this outreach to minority voters. Yesterday, the cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade was killed in Chicago. The reporting indicates that she was just out walking her baby in the stroller and was caught in the crossfire. Donald Trump tweeted and I, quote, "Dwyane Wade's cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying - African-Americans will vote Trump." He later tweeted his condolences. Why does he suggest that an event like that could help him with black voters?

MONTANARO: Well, I mean, it's a very cynical play, and obviously someone dying and being shot is very serious. And the tone with Donald Trump has been consistently a problem, but the play here, though, is that Rahm Emanuel is the mayor of Chicago, and Democrats run the city. And in 140 characters, he's going out and saying, you know - tying that to more violence in Chicago, and that that's why blacks and Hispanics and minority voters should vote for him because something would change. Now, (laughter) this is how we say - what? - too soon (laughter) because I think that's probably what it is.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Domenico Montanaro. Domenico, thank you.

MONTANARO: Thank you.

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Donald Trump's Real Problem Is With White People

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday. Gerald Herbert/AP hide caption

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Gerald Herbert/AP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday.

Gerald Herbert/AP

Donald Trump needs to stop the bleeding.

Since the two parties' conventions, he has plummeted in the polls — both nationally and in the states.

His campaign knows this. His new campaign manager, KellyAnne Conway, is a veteran Republican pollster well aware of Trump's deficiencies with certain voting groups.

That's why there's been a concerted effort in the Trump campaign to reach out to black and Hispanic voters, even if it's been poorly received by many nonwhites.

But the outreach might not be entirely to gain the support of minority voters, who are deeply skeptical of Trump and indicate they are supporting Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly.

It might be aimed, in large measure, at white people, in particular suburban whites with college degrees. You know, people who traditionally vote Republican. They might be persuadable, given their past voting history, but they don't want to vote for someone who is viewed as a racist or a bigot.

So his campaign is trying to change that. Trump has been speaking specifically about black voters at multiple events over the last week or so (though in front of predominantly white crowds) in Wisconsin, Ohio, Texas and Florida. He held an event Wednesday night in Jackson, Miss., where 4 in 5 residents are black.

That outreach continues Thursday at an event at Trump Tower, where black and Latino leaders are supposed to join Trump. And there will perhaps even be a tour of Detroit led by Ben Carson, who grew up there, in early September.

But how can it be, that Trump has a white people problem? Isn't he supposed to be the candidate who appeals squarely to whites?

Let's take a look at the polling. What it shows is that Trump is underperforming with whites compared with Mitt Romney's performance in 2012:

Donald Trump's perceived strength is with white voters, but he is underperforming Mitt Romney's 14-point margin with white women and 27-point margin with white men in 2012. Domenico Montanaro/NPR; Latest NBC/WSJ poll, 2012 national exit polls hide caption

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Domenico Montanaro/NPR; Latest NBC/WSJ poll, 2012 national exit polls

White women: Romney won white women by 14 points — 56-42 percent, according to national exit polls.

Trump, in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released this month, is down a point with the group, 43-42 percent.

That's a 15-point shift. No Republican can afford that.

White men: Romney won white men by a huge margin — 27 points (62-35 percent).

Trump is supposed to drive up the score with white men. But, according to NBC/WSJ, he's only up 13 points (49-36 percent), far less than Romney.

And, let's remember, Romney lost in an electoral landslide to President Obama.

A big problem for Trump is when education is factored in. He is struggling to win the margins he needs with whites with college degrees. Just look at this chart of Trump's massive deficit with white women with college degrees:

What's stunning about this is that Democrats have never won a majority of white voters with college degrees since exit polling began in 1976.

And when it comes to white voters without a college degree, even here Trump is only doing about as well as Romney did. Romney won 61 percent of whites without a college degree. Trump, in the latest, CNN/ORC poll, gets the support of 59 percent.

Donald Trump's deficits with black and Latino voters are worse than Mitt Romney's in 2012, but only slightly. Romney lost black voters by 80 points and Latinos by 44. Domenico Montanaro/NPR; Latest NBC/WSJ poll numbers; Fox News Latino poll; 2012 national exit polls hide caption

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Domenico Montanaro/NPR; Latest NBC/WSJ poll numbers; Fox News Latino poll; 2012 national exit polls

Yes, Romney lost by big margins with nonwhite groups, too, but white voters made up 72 percent of the electorate in 2012 (likely to be slightly less this year.) Trump's campaign has to think there's nowhere to go but up with minority voters — except, right now, Trump is doing worse (or almost similarly bad) with both African-Americans and Latinos also.

Maybe Trump's outreach to minorities can change his standing somewhat with those groups. But an important group he needs to reach are those white voters, who should be traditionally open to voting Republican but are not behind him right now.

That's a point Republican pollster Whit Ayres made as well this week to the Washington Post.

"After 15 months of denigrating every nonwhite minority in sight, it's hard to believe that he can actually do significantly better among nonwhites," said Ayres, who wrote the book 2016 and Beyond: How Republicans Can Elect a President in the New America. He joined Marco Rubio's campaign as his pollster. "But he may be able to soften his image a bit with some Republican and maybe a few independent whites who have been put off by his harshness thus far."

But this is a big hole to climb out of in less than 11 weeks.