Washington (AFP) – Donald Trump won only a fraction of the black vote in last year’s US presidential election and opinion polls out this week suggest he remains deeply unpopular among African-Americans.
Ninety-four percent of the black voters in a Quinnipiac University poll published Wednesday said they believed Trump is not fit to serve as president.
About the same number — 95 percent — said they did not approve of the way he is handling race relations.
And nearly two-thirds of the African-Americans surveyed in another poll — this one conducted by the PerryUndem research firm — said they are worried by Trump.
“A divider, responsible for the deepening chasm of racial discord,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll of 1,412 voters nationwide.
“That is the inescapable characterization of President Trump from voters who see race relations deteriorating on his watch,” Malloy said.
African-American voters tend to back Democrats and Hillary Clinton won 88 percent of the black vote in the November 2016 election while Trump picked up just eight percent, according to exit polls.
Not surprising, perhaps, considering that the real estate tycoon launched his political career by questioning whether Barack Obama, America’s first black president, was born in the United States.
And while seeking the Republican nomination Trump came under fire for being slow to disavow the endorsement of David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
– ‘What the hell do you have to lose’ –
During his White House campaign, Trump did make a pitch for the black vote by claiming African-Americans could not be any worse off than they already are and they might as well give him a chance.
“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?” Trump said in a speech in Michigan.
The appeal failed to generate much support at the ballot box in November and Trump does not appear to have improved his standing much with black Americans since entering the White House.
Eighty-four percent of the black Americans polled by PerryUndem said they feel the country is on the wrong track while just 15 percent said it is heading in the right direction.
Those surveyed were asked how they feel now about Trump.
Sixty-three percent said they were worried, 45 percent said they were scared and 42 percent said they were angry. Twelve percent said they were optimistic and seven percent said they were hopeful.
Five percent of those polled said they think Trump’s policies will positively affect black people while 64 percent said the impact will be negative.
Eighteen percent of black women surveyed and 12 percent of black men said it is a good time to be black in America while 45 percent of black women and 59 percent of black men said it is a bad time.
Respondents were also asked who they trust to work on issues important to them.
Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama topped the list with an identical trust factor of 92 percent.
The Black Lives Matter movement which denounces police violence against black Americans earned a trust factor of 81 percent.
A total of 1,003 African-Americans aged 18 or older were polled between July 18 and August 7 by PerryUndem, a Washington-based policy research firm.
African-Americans make up 13 percent of the US adult population but public opinion surveys based solely on black Americans are rare, according to PerryUndem.
The survey was conducted before two of the latest racially-tinged events involving Trump.
On August 12, white supremacists and neo-Nazis staged a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, ostensibly to protest against the planned removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
A woman was killed when an avowed white nationalist drove his car into a group of counter-protesters.
Trump came under fire from Republicans and Democrats alike after initially insisting that anti-racism protesters were equally to blame for the violence.
During the past week, Trump has denounced American football players who have been kneeling during the national anthem to draw attention to racial injustice.
Trump has denied his condemnation of the players has anything to do with race but until recently the players who have taken part in the anthem protests have been overwhelmingly black.