Trump to hold South Bronx, New York, campaign rally in push for Black voters

By Thomson Reuters May 23, 2024 | 5:02 AM

By Helen Coster and Nathan Layne

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will host a campaign rally in the South Bronx neighborhood of New York on Thursday, targeting a Democratic stronghold as he tries to chip away at President Joe Biden’s support among voters of color.

Recent polls suggest Trump is gaining ground with Black and Hispanic voters, groups that traditionally have supported Democrats. Trump’s campaign sees an opportunity to grab enough of their votes to make the difference in battleground states in the Nov. 5 election.

That is not the case with New York, which Trump lost by 23 percentage points in 2020 and has no chance of winning this year, political analysts say. But a well-attended rally held in the city and covered by major TV networks could help project his message to Black and Hispanic voters nationwide.

“I think it’s part of this larger narrative where he’s trying to chip away at Biden’s support amongst Black and Latino men, primarily,” said Christina Greer, an associate professor of political science at Fordham University. “By him going to the South Bronx, he can say ‘I’m talking to communities that Joe Biden is taking for granted.'”

Trump’s focus on Black voters reflects both candidates’ efforts to look beyond their base in what national polls show to be a close re-match. Some 40% of registered voters in a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll said they would vote for Biden if the election were held today, with the same share picking Trump.

Trump won the U.S. presidency in 2016 with less support from Black and Hispanic voters than any president in at least 40 years, then made up ground with both groups in the 2020 race.

In the New York Times/Siena College poll in March, Trump was selected by 23% of Black and 46% of Hispanic respondents in a one-on-one matchup with Biden. That is far higher than the 12% of Black and 32% of Hispanic voters Trump won in 2020, according to Edison Research exit polls.

Political analysts have attributed Biden’s slipping support among non-white voters this election cycle in part to the outsized impact of inflation on people living paycheck to paycheck.

At Thursday’s rally in Crotona Park, Trump is expected to focus on the economy, crime and immigration – three main planks of his campaign. He will highlight inflation under Biden in particular, his campaign said.

Roughly 77% of Bronx County residents are Black or Hispanic, according to 2022 census data. Biden won the county by 67.6 percentage points in 2020.

Biden has had a flurry of actions and events focused on bolstering support among African American voters, including giving the commencement address at Morehouse College, where he noted the billions in funding his administration has granted to historically Black colleges and universities. Biden also has singled out Trump and other Republicans for attacking programs aimed at improving diversity, equity and inclusion.

Trump’s rally schedule has had to compete with his court appearances on criminal and civil charges. He is standing trial in New York on charges he falsified business records to hide a hush money payment to a porn star before the 2016 election. A verdict could come as early as next week.

In April, Trump made a campaign appearance at a convenience store in Harlem, New York, a predominantly Black neighborhood in Manhattan that has historically voted for Democrats.

While speaking to a Black conservative group in South Carolina before the state’s primary election in February, Trump likened the four criminal cases against him to discrimination faced by Black Americans and said they had come to “embrace” his mug shots.

Trump’s legal challenges, including federal charges over his alleged efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss and his handling of classified documents, differ greatly from the historic inequities Black Americans have experienced in the criminal justice system.

(Reporting by Helen Coster in New York and Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Daniel Wallis)