Nate Jackson / December 16, 2020

Trump’s Legacy: Blacks, Hispanics, and Blue-Collar Workers

The president’s performance wasn’t historic, but it was an improvement.

One of President Donald Trump’s many achievements is the way he shifted the demographics of the country’s electorate with his unique appeal. There are three key demographics that, for the last half-century or so, have been particularly tough for Republicans: blacks, Hispanics, and blue-collar workers. Trump made inroads with all three groups for a lot of overlapping reasons. And he gained among minorities while being slandered as a “racist” almost daily by the mainstream media. In many ways, this shift IS the Trump legacy.

Caveat: Ballot harvesting and bulk-mail balloting skewed a lot of things in the 2020 election, so, as always, keep that in mind with any discussion of results.

Call us crazy, but it’s almost like the color of someone’s skin or the amount of money they earn doesn’t automatically determine their political interests. In fact, most humans simply want jobs to provide for their families, economic security, and a culture and country they feel they belong in. Democrats win votes by dividing people along those lines and fomenting hate. Trump won them by bringing voters into the big tent. He continuously spoke to blacks, Latinos, and blue-collar workers in kitchen-table terms.

For blacks, Trump had the guts to ask for their votes in 2016, essentially asking, What do you have to lose? He continued to court the black vote in 2020. And why not? What president in recent memory had actually done more for blacks? 

Trump advocated school choice (which Democrats and their teacher-union backers hate) and increased funding for historically black colleges and universities. He pushed through significant criminal justice reform, which in large part undid the over-incarceration effects of legislation written by the 1990s version of Senator Joe Biden. President Trump advocated economic-empowerment zones and the “Platinum Plan,” which were just part of the policy agenda specifically designed to increase black employment. Prior to the pandemic, Trump’s presidency saw the lowest black unemployment on record.

That resulted in winning the votes of 9% of black women and 19% of black men — 12% overall, and a big improvement from his 8% showing in 2016. To put it in perspective, however, that’s not a historic achievement. While Trump did improve upon his own showing four years ago and upon that of Mitt Romney and John McCain (who ran against an incredibly popular black man), he only matched Bob Dole in 1996 (12%) and he fell short of the black vote (as a percentage) won by Ronald Reagan (14% in 1980), Gerald Ford (17% in 1976), and Richard Nixon (15% in 1968).

Hispanics have not been nearly as one-sided for Democrats as blacks, but Republicans still struggle to reach Latinos. Surely the “racist” wall-builder Trump, who “wants to keep out all the Mexicans,” wouldn’t gain among Hispanics, would he? Yes, he would. Heck, Trump even carried Zapata County, Texas, which is on the Mexican border and may be the most heavily Hispanic county in the nation.

As it turns out, being Hispanic doesn’t mean automatically and unthinkingly demanding open borders, as Democrats now seem to think. It also doesn’t mean you’re automatically a ward of the state, as Democrats seem to think.

Hispanics have families and want jobs to provide for them. The ones who went to the trouble of emigrating legally (or who have been here for generations) don’t want to compete for those jobs with low-wage illegals, regardless of their nation of origin. They have that in common with blacks.

Our Louis DeBroux wrote in January, “By assuming Hispanics will always vote Democrat and are driven primarily by immigration, Democrats are making little effort to understand the other issues that are important to Hispanic voters. Those include good jobs, a decent education for their children, the rising cost of college, affordable housing for their families, etc.”

A lot of Hispanics from nations like Cuba or Venezuela are terrified of Democrat socialism. They’ve seen it before, and it’s why they fled their home countries. You don’t board a makeshift raft and cross an ocean only to vote for the same policies you fled.

Trump’s pitch was simple: He was far preferable to the alternative. “Joe Biden has spent 47 years betraying the Hispanic American community totally,” he said, “sending their jobs to China, raising taxes on their families and small businesses, making their communities less safe, attacking their values, and trapping their children in failing government schools.” Trump worked to do the opposite of every one of those things, and an increasing number of Hispanics rewarded him with their votes — 47% of Hispanics in Texas went for Trump, for example, and according to Bloomberg, “he took 61% of Miami-Dade’s 482 majority-Latino precincts, up from 26% of them in 2016.” Nationwide, Trump won 32% of the Latino vote, up from 28% in 2016. That’s not the best ever for a Republican, as Ronald Reagan won 37% and 34%, respectively, and George W. Bush netted 35% and 34%, respectively. But, again, Trump saw improvement over recent Republican presidential performance.

Non-whites overall? Trump got 26% of their votes. Only George W. Bush outperformed that in 2004 with 28%.

Interestingly, however, according to Breitbart, Trump lost ground with whites: “President Donald Trump won 64 percent of white people who did not graduate from college in the 2020 election — which is down from his 70 percent share of those voters in 2016.” And he lost “roughly 4.5 million votes” among the “white/college-grad” segment.

Worst white supremacist president ever.

Blue-collar workers of any race — the hourly workers at your local grocery store, the servers at your local restaurant, the factory workers who made your car — have traditionally voted Democrat. Beginning at least with FDR’s “New Deal,” it was Democrats who were perceived to be “for the little guy,” who pushed for higher wages and better benefits. Somewhere along the line, however, Democrats forgot that and began pushing for speech codes, race (bait) training, and gender confusion in the workplace, and then shut down the country, costing many of those workers their jobs.

It was Barack Obama who called us “bitter clingers,” Hillary Clinton who dubbed us “deplorables,” and Joe Biden who derided the “chumps” voting for Trump. Leftist elitist contempt for the average American has only increased over the years, and, by golly, the average American noticed.

As our Douglas Andrews aptly put it, “Democrats are now the elites, the paternalists, the Chardonnay-sippers, the theater-goers, the media darlings, the foundation favorites, the advanced-degree types, and the party preferred by Wall Street. Republicans, on the other hand, have welcomed in the workers, the grinders, the hog butchers, the middle-managers, the guys and gals in the field and on the shop floor. The Republican Party is diverse, but the common thread is Patriotism. We love our country, and we don’t apologize for it.”

Lisa Lerer of The New York Times looked at blue-collar workers and found some “striking” results: “Of the 265 counties most dominated by blue-collar workers — areas where at least 40 percent of employed adults have jobs in construction, the service industry or other nonprofessional fields — Mr. Biden won just 15.” In other words, Scranton Joe underperformed among this cohort, and if he can’t win among these voters, what Democrat can?

Indeed, Donald Trump, the blue-collar billionaire, set about to get government out of our way by lowering taxes and reducing regulation. He battled the media over its gross bias, effectively revealing their tarnished reputation forever with the “fake news” moniker. He challenged the condescension from coastal elites and put a stop to divisive swamp-think like Critical Race Theory training in federal agencies. He undid bathroom mandates and rejected speech codes. In other words, he fought the same culture battles your average, er, Joe is out there fighting in the heartland.

As George Hawley and Richard Hanania write at National Review, “Cultural concerns, not economic interests or policy preferences, were the real dividing line in 2016, and remain so today.”

To sum it all up, what Trump accomplished was to significantly broaden the base of the GOP. If other Republicans can learn the right lessons from that, even Trump’s loss will provide a template for future victories.

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