On a “thank you” victory tour across the country Friday, President-elect Donald Trump claimed that low voter turnout among African Americans helped him win on Election Night.
“The African American community was great to us,” Trump said at an evening stop on his “USA Thank You Tour” in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “They came through big league. And frankly, if they had any doubt, they didn’t vote. And that was almost as good. Because a bunch of people didn’t show up, because they felt good about me.”
Trump also thanked the Latino community and women.
“And women,” he said. “My goodness. We did great with women, so I want to thank women.”
Democratic rival Hillary Clinton won African American voters over Trump, 89 percent to 8 percent, the Washington Post reported. In comparison, President Barack Obama won the group 83 percent to 6 percent in his 2012 reelection against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Clinton lost in part because voter turnout was low in urban areas and she received a lower margin of support from demographic groups that turned out to vote for Obama. At the same time, Trump received a boost in support from working-class white voters and won Michigan, a state that went for Obama in 2012.
Low Black voter turnout may be indirectly connected to Trump’s suggestion that his supporters commit voter suppression. In the months leading up to the election, Trump nudged his supporters to “watch” polling places in “certain areas” to make sure everything is on the “up and up.” He also appeared to encourage supporters to show up with friends to “go check out areas because a lot of bad things happen.”
But this was also the first election after a 2013 Supreme Court ruling gutted the Voting Rights Act, allowing new voting restrictions that would make it harder to vote for low-income, Black, or Latino voters. Changes included photo identification, voter IDs, fewer polling locations, and how many states in which federal election observers were allowed.
Imposing voting restrictions have worked in states like North Carolina where they got rid of Sunday voting because it was favored by voters who were “disproportionately” Black and Democratic, Mother Jones reported. The state’s Republican Party also bragged that Black voters cast fewer early ballots in 2016 than in 2012, pointing to “the once dynamic Obama Coalition [is] crumbling and tired.”
On Election Day, voters across the country waited in long lines, some deterred by the hours-long wait. In Maricopa County, Arizona, there weren’t enough polling sites to accommodate 100,000 new voters. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a city that has 1,600 voting divisions, transit union and management reached an early morning agreement to end a transit strike mere hours before Election Day began, which would have disproportionately affected Black and poor voters as well as other people without flexibility in their workday, ThinkProgress reported.
During the Grand Rapids speech, Trump also introduced Andrew Liveris, chief executive officer and chairman of the Dow Chemical Company, who “would be heading up his newly created American Manufacturing Council,” the Washington Post reported. Liveris said that he would put a new innovation center in the state of Michigan as a way to create new jobs. As the publication pointed out, “[l]eft unmentioned was Dow’s decision in June to it cut about 8 percent of its total workforce in Michigan as a result of its takeover of Dow Corning amid a pending merger with rival DuPont.”