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A Small, Enduring Bloc

2020-07-27 10:39:42

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Since taking office, President Trump has lost support among most major demographic groups: women and men, older and younger voters, college graduates and non-graduates. But there are at least two big exceptions: Black and Latino voters.

Trump will lose both groups badly in November, polls show. But his support among them has not slipped. If anything, it may have risen slightly. Close to 10 percent of Black voters and roughly 30 percent of Latinos back Trump.

“I think there’s a lot of denial about this fact,” David Shor, a top Democratic data analyst, recently told New York magazine.

This enduring Black and Latino support for Republicans has had big consequences. It helped the party win victories in 2018 in Florida, Georgia and Texas, and could help decide Senate control this year.

What explains it? Most political analysts admit they aren’t sure. “I don’t think there are obvious answers,” Shor said.

But there are some plausible theories.

Republican support among voters of color (including Asian-Americans) fell in the years before Trump entered politics. Many were turned off by the Republican Party’s racial appeals to white voters — anti-immigrant rhetoric, embrace of the Confederate flag, lies about Barack Obama and attempts to restrict voting access.

Trump has adopted a more obvious version of white identity politics. But he didn’t invent the tactic. Black and Latino Americans who still vote Republican may simply not be bothered by it.

“Latino support for Trump was already at historic lows,” Gary Segura, dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs at U.C.L.A. and co-founder of the polling firm Latino Decisions, told me. “There’s just not that much room for them to move down.”

These Republican voters of color may instead be focused on other issues. Black and Latino voters are somewhat more conservative on abortion than white voters, for instance. Some voters of color also favor a reduction in immigration. Others don’t like political correctness. Shor points out that a big slice of working-class voters in many countries — across races — prefer the right-leaning party.

Mark Hugo Lopez of the Pew Research Center notes that Latinos are a diverse group. In focus groups in Florida, Lopez has seen Dominican- and Cuban-Americans react to Trump’s harsh comments about Mexican immigrants with lines like, “That’s unfortunate but not necessarily me.”

Finally, some analysts say that Joe Biden and other Democrats haven’t given voters of color enough reason to support the party. “Dems need to give them something to vote for, not simply against,” Cornell Belcher, a Democratic strategist, told me.

“Latinos don’t have a strongly formed opinion” about Biden, Stephanie Valencia of Equis Research told Vox’s Matthew Yglesias.

For more: Shor’s wide-ranging interview with Eric Levitz is full of fascinating political analysis.

Protests across the U.S. grew more volatile over the weekend, spurred by the presence of federal agents in Portland, Ore. In Seattle, protesters smashed windows and set fires, and the police responded with flash grenades and pepper spray.

“I’m furious that Oakland may have played right into Donald Trump’s twisted campaign strategy,” said Libby Schaaf, the mayor of Oakland, Calif. “Images of a vandalized downtown is exactly what he wants to whip up his base and to potentially justify sending in federal troops that will only incite more unrest.”

In Austin, Texas: A demonstrator carrying a rifle was shot and killed on Saturday by a motorist who had threatened protesters with his car, the authorities said.

Abortion-rights advocates have long claimed Margaret Sanger — who opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. — as a hero. Abortion opponents have long argued that Sanger’s advocacy for eugenics — limiting child birth among the poor, disabled and others — was a precursor to abortion.

Planned Parenthood’s decision last week to drop Sanger’s name from its Manhattan clinic, citing her support for eugenics and tolerance of racism, has rekindled the debate.

Anti-abortion writers argue that Planned Parenthood’s leaders have effectively acknowledged the connection between abortion and racism. “This does not excuse their continued perpetuation of her legacy through their insidious practice of targeting the most vulnerable, especially poor women and women of color (both of whose populations so often intersect), by locating the vast majority of Planned Parenthood clinics within walking distance of nonwhite neighborhoods,” Serrin Foster and Damian Geminder write in America, a Jesuit publication.

The Times’s Ross Douthat cites the writing of both Ibram X. Kendi and Justice Clarence Thomas to argue that abortion fails the test of anti-racism.

Cathy, a Times reader in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., responded in the Comments section:

“You can convince me that structural racism, poverty, lack of opportunity, expensive child care, wage inequality and any number of social ills make abortion more necessary, but the sin lies with our society, not Planned Parenthood. If we want to reduce abortion, and want to argue that racism is an inherent part of abortion, we need to reduce the demand, not the supply.”

Roxane Gay has previously written in The Times that Sanger “freed women from indenture to their bodies.”

This week, try making Yewande Komolafe’s spin on yam and plantain curry, a one-pot stew with a sauce of caramelized shallots, garlic and ginger.

It’s an adaptation of asaro, the Yoruba word for starchy root vegetables simmered in a tomato and chile sauce. Regional variations of the dish are staples in southern Nigeria and other parts of West Africa. Though the stew is traditionally made with West African yam, you can use unripe plantains or taro root.

On Friday, the pop star Taylor Swift released her surprise new album “Folklore,” made entirely during quarantine. Swift, who has transitioned from country music to pop music with ’80s rock and hip-hop influences, is no stranger to trying on new genres.

Still, this album, which she recorded in collaboration with a member of the indie rock band the National, marks a notable departure from her usual “high-gloss, style-fluid, emotionally astute big-tent pop,” writes Jon Caramanica, The Times’s pop music critic. He calls it “alternately soothing and soppy.” Read the review here.


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