Approval of President Donald Trump rose to 34.5 percent among black registered voters in a recent Emerson poll.
The number is notable because only 8 percent of blacks voted for Trump in 2016, according to Cornell University’s Roper Center.
The poll of 1,092 registered voters was conducted Nov. 17–20, partly by automated landline calls and partly online. The same poll taken a month earlier showed approval for Trump’s presidency at 17.8 percent among blacks.
The pollster warns that results for subsets of voters have a higher margin of error than the 2.9 percentage points the poll has as a whole. For black voters, the margin is 8.3 percent, according to Spencer Kimball, assistant professor at Emerson College who oversees the polling.
But there doesn’t seem to be any issue with the data itself that could explain such a significant increase.
In November, Emerson interviewed 153 black voters, compared with 140 in October. There were slightly more Republicans in the November group (13.1 percent versus 10.2 percent in October). But there were also more Democrats (69.5 percent vs 64.1 percent).
“There was no change to the methodology,” Kimball said in an email to The Epoch Times. “This could be attributed to variance within the subsets … and be an anomaly, or it could be the start of a trend. … I have noticed [Trump’s] approval with minority voters slightly higher than his 2016 vote totals and think he might do better with this vote than he did in 2016.”
The poll also showed significantly higher approval among Hispanic voters—38.2 percent in November compared to 26.2 percent the month earlier. Again, there were more Hispanic Republicans interviewed in November (16.8 percent vs 12.9 percent the month before), but not enough to explain the rise in Trump approval.
Overall, the poll showed Trump’s approval at 48.3 percent, up from 43.2 percent the month before.
Several other contemporary polls showed much lower Trump approval among blacks in November. The Economist/YouGov had the number at 16 percent among American adults (pdf). Morning Consult/Politico reported 18 percent among registered voters (pdf). Gallup showed 21 percent approval among non-white adults (pdf).
Other polls, however, fell roughly in line with Emerson. Trump had 33 percent approval among non-white adults in the mid-November NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll (pdf). A Rasmussen poll indicated 34 percent support among likely black voters.
While Rasmussen was the most accurate in predicting Trump’s 2016 victory, polls proved largely inaccurate that election season.
At least part of the reason is that the polls are poorly designed, Richard Baris, director of Big Data Poll, previously told The Epoch Times.
Many pollsters only survey people online (YouGov, Morning Consult) or only on the phone (Marist, Gallup).
“There’s a lot of people who don’t want to tell you the truth,” Baris said. “They’re told what they should feel about an issue and they feel like … that live caller may be judging them.”
Both Rasmussen and Emerson use a mix of online and phone surveys and use automated systems for the calls.
Some pollsters also routinely under-represent independent voters and over-represent Democrats in their surveys.
In the latest Morning Consult poll, for instance, 39 percent of respondents were Democrats while 30 percent were Independents and 31 percent Republicans. Similarly, in the YouGov poll, more than 41 percent of the registered voters were Democrats while 32 percent were Independents and less than 27 percent were Republicans.
Gallup, which weighs its samples by party affiliation to reflect the country’s political landscape, had Democrats at a bit over 31 percent, independents at more than 37 percent, and Republicans at about 30 percent.
Emerson also weighs the results by party, giving Democrats nearly 37 percent, independents less than 30 percent, and Republicans almost 34 percent.