The poll, conducted by Emerson College, surveyed 1,576 voters between August 30 and August 31 to ascertain the impact that both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions may have had on the public. Emerson’s results indicate that Trump has tightened the race, now only trailing former Vice President by two percentage points (49 percent to 47 percent.) A similar poll conducted in July had the Democrat nominee leading Trump, 50 percent to 46 percent.
One of the more surprising results from the poll was the president’s increase among black voters. The poll found that Biden garnered 77 percent support among the demographic, compared to 19 percent for the incumbent. Although Emerson does not appear to have data measuring support among black voters in July, a similar poll taken by Zogby Analytics found Biden leading Trump, 77 percent to 14 percent.
If the poll is accurate, it poses a major problem for Biden and his party moving into the general election. Most Democrat strategists point to a drop-off in black turnout between 2012 and 2016 as the primary reason for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s loss four years ago.
During that race, Clinton received 88 percent of the black vote, according to exit polls. Although impressive, the numbers were significantly lower than the 93 percent former President Barack Obama garnered on his way to reelection in 2012.
The drop-off was most significant in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin–states that went narrowly for Trump that cycle after having backed Democrats at the presidential level for nearly three decades. For example, data from the Michigan secretary of state’s office indicates Clinton received 75,000 fewer votes in Wayne County–where Detroit is located–than Obama did in 2012. Even though Clinton still won the county by a substantial margin, the decrease in support ensured Clinton lost the state to Trump – who made strong inroads with white working-class voters – by more than 10,000 votes.
Many believe that if black turnout was the same in 2016 as it was in 2012, Clinton would have won the presidency, despite Trump’s populist appeal to blue-collar whites.
Given the data, Trump’s campaign has made a concerted effort to broaden support among communities of color ahead of the general election. As such, the president’s reelection campaign has invested extensive resources in outreach and voter engagement aimed at black voters. The GOP also committed a significant portion of time at its nominating convention to highlight the administration’s work on behalf of people of color.