August 28, 2016

Is this Trump playing to his strength?

Let me postulate a theory.  Donald Trump is going to reach out to African Americans.  His words on Democrats taking advantage of a secure voting block are true: Democrats see African Americans as a secure vote and nothing more - at least those running for president or as president.  But he's polling 1% among African Americans in some polls. The likelihood of him changing that to more than 3% is pretty low.  On the surface that doesn't seem to be the best use of his time.  So why do it?

It's true that the GOP needs to be more inclusive because in many communities or demographics that Republicans have ceded to Democrats, there are issues that Republicans can connect with voters on.  That's as true for African Americans as it is for any group.  I've been writing about that since 2008.  But that's the long game.  That doesn't help Trump against Hillary right now (at least not in any polls the public is seeing, so far as I know).  

But Trump's goal in holding those meetings may be broader than getting more support from African Americans in November.  Trump may be able to disaffect some African Americans from supporting Hillary Clinton in addition to the voters he manages to attract.  And it goes even further than that.

Trump may be able to impress non-African Americans - women, Asians, Hispanics and maybe even non-Trump-supporting Republicans with the effort.  And that effect may be twofold. (1) he may create the impression that he is a caring person and capable of a softer tone and reaching out.  That impression can cut across demographics and lift his support more broadly.  (2) What if Trump emerges from some of these meetings with a 'deal'?  If he comes out of them with quotes from the those he met with along the lines of 'a productive meeting', 'common ground' or dare I say it 'agreement' then there could be a truly large boost.

Trump is playing to his strength - deal-making.  Offer the community something different from Democrats have offered for 60 years, and something that benefits them in exchange for some level of amicability if not support and that proves Trump can make deals.

It also offers a lead-in to challenge Hillary at the debates regarding his supposed racism.  He can counter with Democrats' soft racism, their hidden racism.  

All in all, if Trump is thinking in those terms, this is actually a pretty slick move, especially if he can pull it off (AND get visibility of that in the media, which is an entirely different story).

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.


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