Feb 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump gets "woke" in 15-city campaign to court black voters

A photo collage of Black Voices for Trump swag and a poster board of the coming community centers.

The Trump campaign is leaning into its effort to woo African American voters, opening "Black Voices for Trump" offices across six swing states, the campaign says.

Why it matters: "Woke" stickers, "Black Voices for Trump" T-shirts and other branded swag are part of this storefront approach as the campaign ramps up its efforts to erode Democrats' lock on this key demographic.

  • The campaign plans to open 15 field offices, which they're calling "community centers": five in Florida, three in North Carolina, two each in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and one each in Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin.
  • One official said the campaign is "countering the identity politics of the left" by arguing that Democrats have overpromised and underdelivered for years. "The president has promised them nothing, but delivered a lot."

Between the lines: Reporters were shown posters showcasing designs for the coming field offices, which were set up in Trump campaign offices in Arlington.

  • The campaign plans to highlight the administration's efforts on criminal justice reform, funding of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, "school choice" and reducing African American unemployment.

The big picture: The Trump campaign launched Black Voices for Trump in November. The president has been seeking to woo black voters in the months since, through tweets, his State of the Union address and a $10 million Super Bowl ad focused on criminal justice.

  • It's a far cry from his pitch in 2016, when he famously told black voters: "What the hell do you have to lose?"

Reality check: Trump got about 8% of the black vote in 2016. His current approval rating is at 14% among African Americans, according to a recent poll, with the vast majority saying they would prefer any of the 2020 Democratic candidates over Trump.

  • More than half of the black voters who said they had been in contact with the Trump campaign said his recent efforts to court them actually negatively influenced their willingness to vote for him, Politico reported.
  • But the campaign doesn't need to win anything close to a majority of the black vote to score a political win on this front. Simply reducing Democrats' margin of support among black voters could make a crucial difference in a state with a close contest.
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