In his desperation to present himself as a champion for minorities on the heels of his “shithole countries” debacle, Trump took to Twitter this morning to play fast and loose with unemployment figures about black Americans.
Unemployment for Black Americans is the lowest ever recorded. Trump approval ratings with Black Americans has doubled. Thank you, and it will get even (much) better! @FoxNews
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2018
While Trump has a proclivity for presenting facts without context, it is not only important, but necessary. While the unemployment rate for black Americans is indeed at its lowest point, that figure has been decreasing since March of 2010, the height of the Great Recession. Under former President Barack Obama, that demographic group’s unemployment rate went from 16.8 percent down to 7.9 percent. That’s a 72 percent decrease under Obama.
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Under Trump, the Black unemployment rate went from 7.9 percent to 6.8 percent, a difference of less than 15 percent.
Not one to settle for only a single misleading statistic, Trump then claimed that his approval rating with black Americans has doubled. The President is referring to a SurveyMonkey poll in which he conflates approval ratings and vote share, before further misrepresenting the poll’s results by averaging values from black men and women to paint himself in a better light.
Per The Washington Post:
Most of those who disliked Trump at the outset of his presidency still disliked him, though there was one interesting quirk: About twice as many black men as women approved of Trump’s job performance, meaning that “black men are one of the few groups for which Trump’s 2017 average approval rating significantly exceeds his 2016 vote share.” Given that the vote share among black men was so low — 13 percent, per exit polls — that’s not a tough figure to beat in terms of approval rating. But, of course, vote share and approval rating measure two different things and, therefore, should be compared directly only if you’re paying close attention to those differences.
Or if you’re a media outlet eager to find good news for Trump. And so, on Sunday, Breitbart’s Neil Munro compared them directly and bizarrely.
“Donald Trump’s support among blacks has doubled since 2016, amid racism claims,” the headline for Munro’s piece read. It cites the numbers that Brownstein noted and declares that 23 percent approval from black men and 11 percent approval from black women “averages out to 17 percent, or twice the 8 percent score he was given in the 2016 exit polls.”
This is not how this works. You can’t just “average” the values from men and women, because they may not make up an even portion of the population. Nor can you then compare that average — which evaluates how people view Trump’s performance as president — to how those groups voted — an evaluation of whom people liked better as a candidate, Trump or Hillary Clinton. Trump’s overall approval rating is consistently lower than his vote share because a lot of people liked him a bit better than Clinton as a candidate but think he’s doing a bad job in office. Brownstein isolated the figure among black men because it was unusual in going the other direction.
In reality, per Gallup, Trump’s approval among black Americans fell nine points from January, when he took office, to December. It didn’t double; it was cut by more than half, from 15 percent to 6 percent.
The fact that Trump is using black unemployment figures and approval ratings as a prop to present himself in a positive light when, in reality, he enjoys next to no support from that demographic is a testament to just how little respect he has for them. Unfortunately for him, black Americans have – and will continue to – make their voices heard en masse at the polls.