The latest USC poll shows a two-day spike in the black vote for Trump, rising from what was steadily 5% or below to around 15%.
This began before his speech in Milwaukee appealing to black voters, and was likely a spontaneous move by blacks themselves. The timing just after the mini-riot in Milwaukee is suggestive, though -- blacks saw yet another black neighborhood and businesses being burned down and terrorized by thugs, and they know Trump is the law & order candidate.
And they also know that Trump has not been campaigning like a typical Republican would, about gutting the social safety net or affirmative action, so they aren't afraid of what he would do to programs they're concerned about. And he's talking about cleaning up the cities, bringing good-paying jobs back, and other bread-and-butter topics that blacks who aren't into identity politics would care about.
Although the black vote is not large enough to determine the outcome of any state, shaving off a few points from Crooked Hillary is good no matter who's doing the shaving. And their support will be greater in some areas like the Southeast, where North Carolina and Florida would be safe if narrow Trump wins with 15% or so of the local black vote.
Romney only got 4% of the black vote, and McCain just 2% -- not surprising when there was a black candidate to vote for, when most are in identity politics mode, and when the alternative was not really going to be better for blacks (or whites) anyway on substantial issues.
Those almost unbelievably low estimates are from the General Social Survey, the gold standard in surveys, which does present the most accurate picture from a very large national probability sample. Unfortunately, the GSS is administered during the summer of even-numbered years, meaning Presidential elections cannot be covered until two years later, and one year after that for the data to be released to the public. By that time, interest has evaporated and nobody bothers looking into it.
Typically people study the exit polls, which are then codified as conventional wisdom, but are more misleading than the GSS. They do not count early voting or bussed-in voting, both of which are more common in Democrat city machine efforts to round up the urban black vote as reliably as possible. (Can't let them try to make it to the voting booth on their own, on Election Day itself -- too much room for error.) And of course the exit polls are not as well-funded and planned out, probabilty-wise, as the GSS is in order to get a representative sample.
Exit polls had McCain getting 4% and Romney 6% of the black vote, when it was really 2% and 4%. Trump looks to be adding a full 10 points to that, showing yet another way in which 2016 is not merely a do-over of 2008 or 2012.
For historical interest, here is what the GSS shows the black vote to be for the Republican candidates back through Nixon in 1968:
1968 -- 11%, Nixon
1972 -- 14%, Nixon
1976 -- 6%, Ford
1980 -- 3%, Reagan
1984 -- 12%, Reagan
1988 -- 20%, Bush Sr
1992 -- 6%, Bush Sr
1996 -- 4%, Dole
2000 -- 9%, Bush Jr
2004 -- 12%, Bush Jr
2008 -- 2%, McCain
2012 -- 4%, Romney
By far the highest support was for Bush Sr. in 1988 -- when the campaign ran an attack ad on Dukakis, a bleeding heart Massachusetts liberal who let out a violent black criminal that went on to commit armed robbery, arson, rape, and murder (Willie Horton). So much for the idea that "fear-mongering" about black criminals will cost a candidate the black vote -- just the opposite! Recall Crooked Hillary's remarks resurfacing from the '90s about black criminals being "super-predators" who "must be brought to heel".
There's a decent chunk of the black population that doesn't want to see their neighborhoods destroyed by thugs, and want the government to come in and act like the black parent who gonna whoop they kid ass if he get outta line. It's not the majority, but it's 10-20% of black voters.
In general, though, the historical data shows that black voters and white voters responded the same way, and do not need to be specifically pandered to in order to win. What did Jack Kemp get for his famous efforts to pander specifically to blacks? -- 4% for Dole-Kemp in '96. Congratulations.
When black support was relatively high for the Republican, it was also high among whites. When it was low with blacks, it was low with whites. The exception that proves which one truly matters more is 1980 -- Reagan barely scraped together 3% of the black vote, yet won over 50% of the popular vote in a three-way race and got nearly 500 Electoral votes.
Trump getting back into the 10-15% range for blacks most likely means his support among whites is going to be a lot higher than it has been for Republicans, either in terms of what percent of them he wins, or how large their turnout numbers are.
Lookin' good, lookin' good.
GSS variables: presYY (year), race